Friday, September 28, 2012

Adopt Your Stray Vampire Today

Time to get back into the routine of my book posts. Sadly, it's been a while, not just since I did a book post, but since I picked a book that really grabbed me. I had a bit of a drought in August and September. But I finally got hooked by a book that's quite apropos for the coming month of October.

The Basics
Harper, Molly. The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires. New York: Pocket Books, 2012. Print.

Molly Harper originally made her living as a journalist for the Paducah Sun. Eventually she transitioned from reporting to fiction writing, and her Nice Girls series got published. The Nice Girls series, which you'll be hearing about in a week or two, follows an ex-children's librarian turned vampire through her unlife in Half-Moon Hollow, Kentuky. There she dodges interfering mothers, conspiring sisters, and a murderer or two.

The Book
Why dwell on the other series so much? Well, The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires is also set in Half-Moon Hollow and runs at a slight parallel to Harper's other series, involving many of the same characters.  Originally, I picked this book up for laughs as it passed through the library (you see why the other series appeals, yesh?). I saw the title and cover and read the back and, frankly, thought the book looked freaking ridiculous (I mean, really, look at that cover). Naturally I had to see what was inside. I'm so glad I did, not only did I discover a great little not-so-urban fantasy with a dash of romance, I also found an author whose writing, humor, and snark I love.

As I've said before, if I'm going to read a romance novel, I want there to be a whole lotta plot. In fact, if the I can have plot with a smidge of romance, that's what I'd prefer. As a result, I tend to be a little suspicious of books billed as supernatural romance (admittedly, Twilight might have a lot to do with my skittishness). The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires definitely fits the bill. The story focuses on Iris Scanlon, a young entrepreneur who owns a vampire concierge service, fulfilling the daytime needs and errands of Half-Moon Hollows undead population. Life is going swimmingly until she stumbles, literally, over Cal the vampire, an investigator who drags her into his mystery solving. I really enjoyed the overall plot, as Cal and Iris try to track down the source of poisoned synthetic blood.  The mystery kept me guessing for a good long while, and the reasoning behind it was delightfully unexpected and twisted.

So, what did I like about this book? What didn't I? Now, some might draw parallels to the Sookie Stackhouse series, and the similarities are definitely there: a coming out, synthetic blood, southern. But really, that's where the similarities end. Harper takes good advantage of vampire lore while tweaking it here and there to create her own version for her universe. Harper's books would be well suited to fans of the Harris series (especially since I think they might be a tad better. Le gasp!).

The main characters Harper crafts are highly believable. Iris, especially, is nicely multi-dimensional. Her history and motivations are well thought out and consistent. I like her background as a botanist, which is unique, and her dual roles as parent/guardian of her younger sister and woman in her early twenties creates an interesting character.  Gigi, the sister is a believable teen, smart and sassy but still capable of the profound lack of common sense that teens often struggle with.  Cal is less complex than the two sisters, but he makes up for it with mystery. I'm sure his character will grow as Harper expands the series; she's left herself plenty of room.

My favorite part of the novel was the humor. Harper is clearly one snarky, snarky lady.  This particular book had me not just laughing out loud, but howling and slapping the sofa in mirth. It was that good.  For example, Gigi accuses her sister of sending her away for something other than protection from their vampiric house guest, "Is this all a very convincing act put on to get me out of the house so you can spend the weekend humping like deranged howler monkeys?" (61). Hi-(wait for it)-larious.

So yeah, all around great read. I read it start to finish in less than a day, and after a month and a half of trying to push my way through one book (which shall remain nameless, wallowing in its own boredom), that was nicely refreshing. I highly recommend this book, so why are you still here and not at a bookstore already? 

But, before you go, here are a few links:



  1. Ok, I need help here. I have never given vampire stuff a go. What would be something good for a newbie to try? Do you have to be into horror/gore?

    1. You don't have to be horror/gore at all (though, I might avoid Anita Blake if I were you). Let's see... The Sookie Stackhouse books are good; start with Dead until Dark. But if you're also looking for a good mystery, those start going downhill after the fourth book. I'd start with Molly Harper really. This book would make a great starting point. Or if you want a vampire protagonist you could start with Harper's Nice Girls Series: Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs, Nice Girls Don't Date Dead Men, etc.

      Good luck! And thanks for stopping by!


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