Vampires in Melbourne
by George Ivanoff - January 22nd, 2013
It’s been a long time coming, but it’s finally here. Well, actually, it was here in June last year. I’ve just been a little slow in getting around to writing about it. Walking Shadows, the sequel to Narrelle M Harris’s 2007 vampire novel, The Opposite of Life, was released in June last year. It has certainly been worth the wait.
The Opposite of Life was a vampire novel with a difference (see my review). It introduced readers to Lissa the librarian, who has a knack for finding herself in the wrong place at the wrong time, and Gary, the podgy, Hawaiian-shirt wearing, daggy vampire. After solving the mystery behind a killing spree in that novel, there was a promise of their return. And so we waited.
They did return briefly in January 2012 with a short story, “Showtime”, published in a collection of the same name (see “Showtime”). But now finally, we have a new novel. This time around Lissa and Gary have to deal with vampire hunters.
Walking Shadows has everything that made The Opposite of Life such a great read. The Melbourne setting is vivid and vibrant (particularly if you happen to know the city), but this time we also venture out to Sovereign Hill, which is a real treat. The main characters are as interesting and flawed and real as ever, even those who are not human anymore.
As with the first novel, this one is never quite what you expect it to be — which is wonderful and makes for exciting reading. Even those few plot elements that seem predictable, end up going in unexpected directions.
As is often the case with Harris’s writing, there is an emphasis on family — its importance; its inescapable nature; and often, the pain that comes with it. These elements are evident even in the characters who have no family — the absence of family being as important to a character’s makeup as the presence of a dysfunctional family.
Vampires, of course, are the main focus of the story — the dangerous, blood-sucking, neck-biting variety rather than the sparkly, angst-ridden sort. But Harris has given us her own unique take on the mythical creatures. I particularly love the fact that they lose the ability to learn after they are turned and that blood is not a necessity to them — rather it is something akin to a drug that makes then feel almost human for a short time.
It’s no secret that I am a fan of Harris’s writing (and, by the way, I would highly recommend you checking out her early crime novellas Fly By Night and Sacrifice, which are available as e-books). I think this is a great book. If you like vampires, chances are you will love this book. If you’re not really into vampires, give this book a try anyway as an example of a non-clichéd approach to the genre.
I hope I don’t have to wait too long for the next instalment in the adventures of Lissa and Gary.
Catch ya later, George
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