Our final publisher for this week is BelleBooks, viagra 100mg or more specifically their Bell Bridge imprint. BelleBooks publishes specifically Southern fiction (Southern Fried Fiction, as their tagline says), and this imprint is to go beyond that and publish fantasy, horror, and YA, among other things. The imprint was only started in July of this year, and Bite Me is one of their first releases. Parker Blue (a name that is obviously a pen name, but an awesome one at that) has published just this novel so far; she lives in Colorado with a dog that, as she says, “bears an uncanny resemblance to Val’s part-hellhound mutt, Fang.” She very much likes the color red and finds reality television — at least the kind where they have people come on to do stupid things and then make fun of them (i.e., American Idol). I have to agree with her on that!
Val Shapiro, eighteen, is one-eighth succubus, or lust demon, and (as she says) it takes the other seven-eighths of her to control it. She’s out one night hunting vampires — since violence will sate the succubus for a while at least — when her sixteen-year-old blond cheerleader half-sister, Jennifer, follows her out. Naturally her parents decide that the best course of action is to kick Val out of the house. So Val leaves, ungraciously, and finds herself a sidekick — a part-hellhound dog named Fang — and a job, with (of all people) a special unit of the police — that allows her to kick butt. But what happens when her sister refuses to stay away from the vampires?
Bell Bridge’s website describes the book as “an edgy book for teens that spans the gap between YA and adult fiction.” That’s pretty much exactly what’s going on. Val is eighteen, but she was forced to grow up very young — and then forced to become a full adult when her mother and stepfather kicked her out of the house. The police unit hires her as a member of their team by pulling strings and eliminating most of the training (at least the police training; she certainly knows how to hunt vampires). She’s got a job, a roommate (her partner’s sister), a dog, a Honda Valkyrie (motorcycle), and a goal in life. The book is only 230 pages or so, and there isn’t any overt sex, but it does an excellent job of straddling that border between YA and adult.
It’s fairly obvious that this is the first book in a series. The ending is left open; while the immediate crisis is dealt with, there’s still a giant problem going on. Also, Ms. Blue’s world-building is a little too large and a little too complete to end here. I liked her world quite a bit — I can’t think of too many other books that I’ve read set in San Antonio, and I liked how vampires were barely known. That, and I loved the characters. We primarily see Val and Dan Sullivan; she’s smart-alecky, but honorable, and has struggles (mostly with the demon inside her). Dan is a good guy, as well, and his conflicts are all on stage and felt honest to me. Of course, Fang is probably the best character in the book; I was a little unnerved that he talked in small caps like Terry Pratchett’s Death, but I doubt that all readers will have that problem.
The pacing was great; there were definitely enough moments of down-time to keep the plot balanced. Val’s voice was strong; she did feel a bit unfinished at times, but then again, she’s only eighteen. There was only one moment that tugged at my suspension of disbelief, and that was the waiving of all the police training before she got her job. It didn’t yank that hard, though, and I still very much enjoyed the story. Overall, I think this would be a good companion to the Morganville Vampires books; they both deal with characters around the same age who are dealing with similar paths in life. Claire is a very different person from Val, but the vampires are just as strangely ambiguous. The plots are also completely unlike, and Val isn’t a hundred percent human, but readers who enjoyed one would most likely enjoy the other. 4/5 stars.