More of a public health warning. Or a shriek of unholy rage.
When I first toyed with the idea of writing a blog, I had the very clear notion that for lots of reasons I didn’t want to do book reviews. So what follows is Definitely Not a Book Review. To make it less like a book review, there will be no mention of the name of book or author. There may be sparkling, fluffing and throbbing, but this behaviour will not be conducted by rankings in the shape of stars, kitties or hearts.
On with the story. Yesterday afternoon I had achieved the kind of semi-recumbent nirvana only possible in the early days of spring. I lay on the sofa watching dust motes float through shafts of warm air and sunlight, feeling cosy, yet blanket-free in my flat for the first time in six months. A synapse or two idly fired somewhere beyond my left ear. Ahhh… Lovely, lovely bank holiday Monday. Nothing to do, too lazy to move. I know, I’ll just lean over the side and pick up this book from the top of my big pile of unread books. Then I’ll read it. Such bliss…
And all this science, I don’t understand
If this were a cartoon, the book in question would now begin to emit that noxious yellow-green light that indicates toxic levels of radiation. It would throb with menace and foreboding. Clouds would roll across the sky to cover the sun and the rumble of thunder would echo in the distance.
But this is real life. Any boding was conspicuous only by its reluctance to come to the fore. All the omens were auspicious. The new-to-me writer had been recommended as a good ‘un. Birds probably chirruped outside my window. Their entrails, if examined, would likely be a healthy colour and portend good things. (I don’t know what this ent(r)ails. They probably looked like pound signs and chocolate-raspberry torte. At this point my traumatic amnesia sets in.)
It’s lonely out in space
I should probably now suggest that any reader who doesn’t sympathise with my preferred choice of low-brow, trashy reading might want to spare me the humiliation, skip the rest of this and just email me directly to say, “I told you so. Serve you right for reading that crap. Stop reading those damn books and read some Proust or Dan Brown instead. Man-titty will only lead you to grief.” Times like this I almost agree with you.
Anyone intrigued by a plot involving vampires, historical/regency settings and HEAs might require a bit more information. Beware: spoilers abound. I can’t do this without them. So to help you decide whether or not to carry on, I will say that the book concerned is the very recently published third book in a vampire series. Setting is historical, vampirism is caused by a virus. Oh, and the title sounds like “The Churning” (of my gut). But with a “B”.
In fact, it's cold as hell
Now there are things about this book that are okay, and even interesting. But I’m not going to mention them. After all, this is Definitely Not a Book Review, and therefore I am not remotely interested in being fair. In fact, I’m feeling pretty damn mean because reading this book destroyed the joy of my bank holiday afternoon. It took my fond hopes, gleefully stomped them flat and let the cat pee on them.
Besides, for me, one bit of the book had an effect rather like a long-ago extremely smelly cheese brought back from France, removed from its special lead container and left in the fridge for a week. It tainted everything else within reach. Even the cat food. I cannot and will not be fair. I will be unjustly focussing on three lines in the book to the exclusion of all else. Because this is Definitely Not a Book Review. If the rest of the book was a work of heart-breaking beauty, I would still not care. In fact, to work the cheese metaphor overtime, that might actually be worse.
It's just my job, five days a week
I’ll skip the detailed plot description. Guilt-wracked hero, (quelle surprise) has dedicated self to becoming an über-warrior and tracking down bad vampires. He has undergone extreme training at the hands of three vampiresses in strategically slashed, silky outfits without a hint of “beauty” tape. One’s short and “rounded,” one’s tall and slim, one’s… oh I can’t be bothered.
There’s some shades-of-Anita mumbo-jumbo about how properly-channelled sexual energy can give him superpowers, etc. etc. Whoopee. Quite literally. Although his training is goal-oriented and divided into three sequential phases with specific requirements and assessment exercises for each, this programme is never going to feature in the national curriculum.
Frustrated lust, orgy-tastic scenes to “drain” him and severe chafing ensue. Phase 2 involves extreme sexual torture to help him “focus”. There are white-hot brands, dagger-sharp nails and blocks of ice with strategic holes (probably 3-4 inches deeper and somewhat wider than one would normally expect). But it’s okay, ‘cos he’s got these vampire healing powers. The details of phase 3 escape me, and I can’t face looking through the book to find them. Oh, and by the way, there’s a greasy, exploding-vampire-shaped mark on his dungeon wall which is all that’s left of the last guy they trained. Since this is told in flashback, the suspense is just killing me.
Zero hour, nine a.m.
So the scene is set. Hero is chained down on stone bench in dungeon. One of the vampiresses wants to accelerate his training. She’s possibly a bit nuts. The others disagree, so she has secretly been providing extra-curricular lessons to our gifted student.
Brace yourselves, kids. Bet Ms. Vampira wishes she had. During a critical stage of training, his long-suppressed manly juice erupts with turbo-charged force. The final, rocket-fuelled spasm propels the superhumanly strong several-thousand-year-old vampiress across the dungeon and into a sideboard. I swear I am not making this up. It’s half-way down on page 242. Three lines of print. What a mess.
And I think it’s gonna be a long, long time
I’m not mad because this sent me into fits of hysterical laughter for the next quarter of an hour. I’m not mad because four pages later the stupid psychic virgin heroine, who KNOWS that this has happened says, “I’ll take my chances”, and asks hero to make love to her. I'm not even mad because the main human villain is such a caricature of eeeevilllee, he probably features in a book called "How to Roast Sweet Little Adorable Fluffy Baby Puppies". I’m mad because these three stupid, stupid lines of print have put “Rocket Man” in my head for the last 24 hours. In my mind from that scene on, the hero became Elton John, and for this, there can be no forgiveness.
Oh no, no, no. I'm a rocket maaaaaaannn...