I saw this book in an airport bookstore a few years ago, added it to my Goodreads, and forgot about it. I recently found a novel I really enjoyed was by the same author, and was reminded of this one. Since I had an extended travel period coming up, I figured this would be a perfect thing to bring with me. I was right.
Fred is a vampire who is also an accountant. He was your typical nerd in life, and finds that not much changes in undeath. Except that it does. While Fred himself may not have changed in terms of personality, his mundane life does get exciting. In the series of short stories that make up the novel, he goes to a class reunion, fights werewolves, gets a girlfriend who has some supernatural secrets of her own, jousting with a were-pony named Bubba, getting help from a were-lion named Richard (get it?), hires a zombie as an assistant, helps a couple of mages, and deals with dragons (or at least dracolings). The characters and action are generally both entertaining and interesting if a little cliché but that’s part of the fun, and given the short story-ness of the episodes, it left me immediately looking up the sequels.
There’s a technical term in classical rhetoric that kept jumping into my head while reading this: preateritio. Basically, this means saying that you won’t be saying something in order to indirectly say it. It’s almost a form of irony. First, there’s the title “The Utterly Uninteresting & Unadventurous Tales”. I’ve read a fair bit of adventure fantasy, and what happens here is pretty classic adventure stuff. Also, given the range of characters and personalities, including the quasi-Revenge-of-the-Nerds hero, the supernatural agency secret agent girlfriend, the alchemist/mage who accidentally causes a lot of trouble, the LARP turned real, the powerful warrior/daddy, etc., it’s difficult to honestly call a story uninteresting and be genuine about it.
Second, there’s Fred’s continued insistence on his dullness, which is then frequently qualified with something like “at first”. The repetition of this along with the frequent assertions that movie depictions of the supernatural are wrong almost always get reversed during the action. After a 1 in a million defeat of a dracoling in a bet, Fred uses the stereotypes about vampires to help get himself and friends out of the situation afterwards more easily. He later does much the same when he encounters the vampire who turned him and now wants him to turn into a classic monster. Claiming that stereotypes are wrong, then proving them true to some extent makes the continued insistence of Fred’s seem more like either false modesty or an inability to adjust to his new reality. In the end though, it all gets played for humor and it is entertaining.
Really the only problem I had with the novel was a section towards the end in Krystal’s voice. She too is something of a stereotype lady cop who feels she has disappointed important people in her life and uses her tough-girl attitude as a cover. Her little asides to this effect annoyed me a little, although using her perspective did preserve an I-should-have-seen-that-coming-but-didn’t-quite-get-all-of-it reveal during the last story of the novel.
Given that there are 2 more installment, with a fourth forthcoming soon, I’m hoping the fun continues. I have about 3 weeks before the school term starts back up, and I think these will be a good way to help relax a little before it’s back to work.