Wednesday, November 9, 2011

The Cowboy and the Vampire, by Clark Hays and Kathleen McFall


This book was much, much better than I expected.  It's the sort of book you purchase from the clearance rack on a whim, figuring that it might be just terrible enough to be entertaining.  But lo and behold, it's actually a decent book.  The leading lady is a bit lacking in personality, it's true, but the titular cowboy and friends pack plenty of punch n the personality department--Tucker, his dad, his paramoid militia-crazed friend, and his loyal dog Rex all liven up the story and add an earthiness and humor to the hyper-serious, overdramatized flavor that plagues so many vampire tales. 

One of the authors was raised on a farm out Montana way, so there's an element of authenticity and affection in the gentle mockery of the small town West.  Indeed, there is much more fondness in the descriptions of life out west than in the comparatively lifeless New York portions of the book.  In the initial chapters, the narration switches viewpoints from Tucker--the cowboy--to Lizzie--the New York reporter.  In later chapters, a third person narration is adopted, but Tucker's perspective and voice dominate the book overall.  Which is probably for the best, since it is the cowboy's take on vampirism that makes the book entertaining.

The authors make some creative modifications to the vampire mythology (including specifically how and by whom new vampires can be made), but I ultimately found the changes too bizarre and convenient to really stick.   The authors can't seem to make up their minds whether vampires are inherently good or bad.  These vampires have their own bible, a bastardization of the Christian bible, which I found kind of unsettling, and which is usually an indication of evil. It's hard to come back from that and argue that vampires are really a good thing.

The book contains some 'romantic' interludes, but they are fairly discreet--or at any rate not as graphic as  those in many romance novels, and the primary romantic relationship, though not formalized by marriage, is at least a monogamous and committed one. As for gore or violence, there is a bit of an ick factor in some of the 'bad vampire' scenes, but nothing too objectionable.

Still, all in all, it was an entertaining story, told with humor and personality.  It may not be for everyone, but one look at the title should be enough to tell you whether this is the book for you.

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