The Vampire Voss
I haven’t read Ms. Gleason’s Gardella Chronicles, so I’m not coming into her new Regency Draculia series with high expectations. What I wanted was to see what fuss was about. What I hoped for was a decent take on vampires. Did I get what I want? Well, sorta. But not really.
In a way, I’m very pleased with Ms. Gleason’s almost conventional approach. Her vampires are the creation of Lucifer and bear the devil’s mark on their shoulder, which is a bit different, but otherwise they are the progeny of Vlad Tepes, drink blood, can’t bear the sunlight, die only when beheaded or staked, and are murderous raving lunatics when the bloodlust is upon them. In this case, I find convention refreshing. I am so frickin’ tired of convoluted world-building and Queen Victoria the vampire hunter, and good vampires who drink bagged blood and resist the call of their nature, not to mention the whole Jane Austen-vampire thing, which is old. So Ms. Gleason’s almost prosaic, classical approach suits me to a tee.
And on the whole, there’s more to like. The eponymous vampire is definitely no knight in shining armor; Voss is used to playing both sides of the fence and to hell with ethics. He spent the last century and a half selling secrets, often about each vampire’s specific weakness. When the story opens he has a secret for Dimitri, Earl of Corvindale and guardian to the Woodhouse sisters while their brother is missing: Voss knows where Chas Woodhouse is, and with whom. He is with Narcise Moldavi, Corvindale’s enemy’s sister, but Dimitri is leery of this information, considering it comes from a man he has no reason to trust after events in Vienna a century earlier.
If that left you confused, then welcome to the party. I was thrown into the story with no preparation, something that has its advantages since I hate info dumps and, once all the pieces come together, the setup is quite interesting. But it also became rather confusing since Ms. Gleason is positively miserly with her information, dealing it out like Hansel with breadcrumbs, I never really got into the story. It doesn’t help that in setting up a series, Ms. Gleason has to deal with all the nitty-gritties in establishing plot, character, and setting, with the result that I really think the book should and could have been longer. Less, in this case, is definitely less.
As for our heroine, Angelica, I suppose I’m just getting older. I find it increasingly difficult to relate to eighteen-year-olds, no matter their maturity and wisdom, as Angelica is supposed to have, due to her ability to foresee others’ deaths. There is nothing overtly wrong with her, but neither is it all right. This more or less goes for the whole book – The Vampire Voss provides a minor storytelling buzz, but at fifteen bucks it isn’t worth the price of a good lunch.