The Con Starts. The immortals show up. Bad things happen. Hilarity ensues. Some people I recognize are there, and I'm not sure if the serial numbers just weren't filed off hard enough or if they were never meant to be. Whatever, I recognize some of them and it makes it more fun. Bodies, rituals, black magic and summonings abound. In one case, Kate crosses the line and actually has someone bitten by a werewolf in well... a place that no man should ever be bitten by a werewolf. I laughed my tail off. If you're wondering, I'm referring to Kate Paulk's Convent Book One of the Con Series. There is also a prequel short-story? novella? (sorry, I didn't count the words) and a second book and many of us out there are waiting (im)patiently for the third.
For those that don't know, this is a work of Fantasy with no true SF elements to it. Don't get me wrong I love Fantasy. I write Fantasy. But if you're looking for rockets and ray-guns, you may be better off looking elsewhere. On the other hand, if you love a good story with a strong fantastic element and a hint of detective novel tossed in, this is the place to look.
Before I get too far into the book, I wanted to mention Kate's involvement with the Sad Puppies. She is next year's evil, evil, evil ringleader. If you support evil, mean people who evilly think that you should evilly vote for good fiction written by evil people who evilly put story over message (because they're evil) she's worth supporting. Oh, and her book also kicks ass, but we'll get to that in a minute. I just wanted to take a minute to give evil praise to Her Evilness, The Duchess of Snark. Does that make me evil? Probably. I'm OK with that. Now, onto the book.
Our hero is a vampire named Jim. Thank God that Paulk manages to NOT make her vampire a sparkly ass who trolls high schools looking for a date. (For the record, yes I do know about Twilight. I watched the first two movies with my ex-wife and read the first hundred-forty pages of the first book. I ALWAYS give a book at least a hundred-fifty pages. That one was just unbearable.) Jim is also a believable character on an emotional level, as he travels the con scene because he can be weird there. Granted, I've never been a blood-sucking vampire, but I do kind of know the feeling.
Jim has the standard vampire gifts: He will never die of natural causes, is nearly impossible to kill, can use the vampire charm, etc. He also has a few extra gifts: He is a day-walker, he can ground magical effects and he seems to be favored by well.. I won't spoil that part. Let's just say he was as surprised as I was and that Ms. Paulk would appear to have a strong sense of the ironic.
Along the way, we meet Jim's friends. I don't want to reveal too much because the appearance of some of them (and the subsequent time spent going "Hey, I know that person) were a big part of the fun of the book for me and I don't want to ruin it for anyone who hasn't read the book yet. Seriously, it's a good time. I will reveal that he is friends with one werewolf, two succubi, a minor angel and one demon of a rank he is unsure of. There are also other, less friendly immortals about. Indeed, most (if not all) of the tension in the book comes from the interactions between characters that aren't truly human.
Being a con, there's a lot of interaction going on between publishers, agents and authors. Paulk's vision of the publishing industry is hysterically funny even if it is a bit more negative than a newbie unpublished wannabe author (ya know, like the one that publishes this blog) wants to hear, but that doesn't mean it's not entertaining or, for all I know, fairly accurate. I do, however, have it on good authority that Paulks observations about authors being addicted to chocolate and coffee are, if not accurate, then understated.
I don't want to give up the ending here but I do want to say that it was as satisfying as it was funny. I'll be honest in stating that I didn't get all of it, but it was great nonetheless. A little asskickery crossed with some hijinks and hilarity will make my day every time. Trust me. Your first time reading this will leave you a little grossed out by what you've just read, but it's a laughing with my buddies after a disgusting bodily function kind of grossed out.
Fair warning: If you find yourself offended by sexual innuendos and the occasional double entendre this is not the book for you. If you are not offended and are capable of getting a giggle at mild sexual humor like most adults, check this work out. I loved it. There is nothing I appreciate more than a sly one liner and these characters spit them out in spades. Sean, the werewolf, also kind of reminds me of a teenaged version of myself, except more successful than I ever dreamed of being. (OK, not really. I dream big. But definitely more successful than I ever actually was.)
All in all, this is a really solid story with no major flaws. Really, my only complaint is that the Nook edition (possibly other ones as well, but that's the version I read) doesn't allow me to shrink the text down to the normal size that I used when I read. This is far from a horrible thing, but my poor little finger started getting sore from all of the page flipping. I'm just too used to having a page of text on my screen at one time, I guess. That didn't effect the story though, because the story was awesome. Other than that, the book was well written and made an excellent translation on to my favorite device.
Bottom Line: 4.5 out of 5 startled fen.
Naked Reader Press, 2011
Conventcan be purchased at the link below: