Blood and Sunlight: A Maryland Vampire Story by Jamie Wasserman

This is a book I received, courtesy of the author, through LibraryThing's Member Giveaway program. If you haven't checked it out, you should. Blood and Sunlight is the author's first novel, though he has published several shorter works of the fantasy and horror genres.

From the Back Cover:
Melanie would love to believe in fairytales. She’d love, in fact, to believe in anything. The twenty-three-year-old college dropout is stuck — stuck in a dead-end waitress job, stuck in her hometown of Ellicott City, Maryland, and stuck with a boyfriend who likes to play dress-up as a vampire.

Vampires. Her world and her reality are turned upside down when she encounters the real thing. Along the way, she meets Lucas, the would-be vampire slayer, his father the sheriff, and ultimately the vampire himself. Melanie learns that fairytales can come true, and evil isn’t always where you expect to find it.

As I read this book, two things in particular struck me. One, I love the writing. Wasserman has a great way of setting scenes with a poetic yet minimalistic style. Everything is very tight, vivid, and packed with meaning. And clever -- the whole story is framed by a bedtime story told by a father to his little girl. I can't say too much more without giving away crucial parts of the plot, but it was an unexpected yet delightful element. It made for a fabulous opening that instantly appealed to me. Then, later, I had one of those "oh!" moments when the everything you've just read takes on a whole new perspective, and you go back to the beginning to reread things with a fresh eye. As I said, clever. And I appreciate clever.

The second thing about this book -- I don't love the characters. Well, specifically, I don't love the protagonist, Melanie. She has this disaffected youth thing going on that I just don't and didn't care for much. It's not the type of character I gravitate towards, and I always struggle with a story if I can't feel for the characters. Since Melanie is the central thread of this story, my total enjoyment was affected.

Overall, this book strongly put me in mind of a vampiric Tithe, the popular young adult novel by Holly Black. Granted, less . . . well, frilly, I guess is the word. Still there's much similarity in tone and character. And both left me feeling the same way -- thoughtful and intrigued yet a little put off by the protagonist. I can only deduce that the book is great but that I'm the wrong audience for it. Which is fine. I'm still quite happy to have been given the opportunity to read it. And now I'm curious about Wasserman's other work, and whether something else by him might be more to my style.

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