Anyone who reads a lot of gay male stories will be aware of just how many vampire stories there are out there. I enjoy vampire stories just as much as...moreAnyone who reads a lot of gay male stories will be aware of just how many vampire stories there are out there. I enjoy vampire stories just as much as the next person, but I will admit to feeling at times that the market is simply oversaturated with stories that use the same old, typical vampire lore with recycled storylines. Every now and then, you inevitably stumble upon a book with a unique approach that is both fresh and a joy to read. For me, The Vampire Fred: Wicked Game fits into this category. My first indication that this wouldn’t be your typical gay male vampire story? Hi name is Fred. How many stories have you read where the vampires have exotic, sexually-charged names? This guy is simply…Fred. But that is the only simple thing about him.
The story starts out with a lengthy introduction to our new pal Fred, and how he came to be in his current situation. He’s been a vampire for barely a month, he is working a warm-body job in data entry at night to make enough money to purchase blood at the slaughterhouse, and he’s got a freeloader Daniel that he can’t seem to get rid of and is getting on his last nerve. The fact that Daniel is his sire and his only connection to and teacher about the world of vampires complicates things quite a bit. Fred recognizes that he needs Daniel, and is quite a bit conflicted over his feelings for Daniel but more than anything else he yearns for more information about the world he is now a part of. He’s most definitely going to get it, in a big way, but not quite in the way he might have expected.
I truly enjoyed the unique aspects that Demont adds to this story in regards to the vampires and their world. Some of them are simple, such as the vampires having silver blood, and others are much more complex, with different types of vampires and an established hierarchy of power and control as well as weaknesses to each strain. The aspect I found the most shocking, and actually the most intriguing, is that the vampires don’t get off from having sex and indeed penetration itself is something that feels kind of odd and normally doesn’t lead to any kind of sexual release. What really provides the pleasure is feeding from one another, and it plays an integral part of sex, to enhance the sensations that as a human would come simply from the act of sex itself. Vampire stories almost always pair feeding and sex together, but to have sex not be particularly pleasurable is unexpected. All of these lend a fresh and distinctive quality to the story that make the reading that much more enjoyable.
Most definitely my favorite aspect of this story, the one that really makes the story work for me, is Fred. The characterization and voice that Demont has provided for the main character is wonderful. It’s witty and sarcastic and being that the story is told from Fred’s point of view, it makes the reading fun and I found myself smiling quite a bit at this dry, slightly pessimistic and naïve character.
On the flip side, Daniel is more evasive and seeks pleasure in life while avoiding getting sucked into the vampire world. He made Fred a vampire without any consent, and as such is responsible for his fledgling, and although he knows that Fred desires more information he only lets little bits through. He is a good antithesis for Fred, and the two different characters work well together. It is necessary to suspend disbelief slightly that Fred in particular moves from annoyance to admiration and love quite so quickly, but it was an aspect that didn’t hinder my enjoyment too much.
I thoroughly enjoyed the first half of the book, yet unfortunately during the second half I have to admit to becoming lost quickly. Without giving away too much information, Fred begins to connect with his predecessors as in this world vampires are connected to the ones they are reincarnations of. Fred begins to have dreams that connect him to those that came before him, and this is where I honestly became seriously confused. The story jumps into these dreams quickly and there isn’t enough explanation for the reader to be able to clearly understand what is going on. Even after having finished the book, I still feel slightly lost and am unclear on what was really happening. I still enjoyed the story, and was able to keep a grasp, although slight at times, on the story, and upon reaching the end wanted more, however I do wish that there had been more explanation of what Fred was experiencing. I know in theory what was happening, but the details had my brain turning this way and that trying to make sense of it all, not the kind of reaction a book should elicit. I’m not sure if it would all be clearer upon a second reading, but I am glad that there was enough other stuff in the book so that my last reaction was not one of confusion. In the end, Fred himself was the one that saved this story for me as I just adored his reactions and internal voice and biting sarcasm. If Fred had been a weaker character, I am sure that I wouldn’t have been as forgiving with the confusion I experienced or have enjoyed the story as much as I did.
My only other minor complaint is that there are several errors that should have been caught during the editing/proofreading process but in the end they didn’t detract too much from my reading. I am saddened to say that I have simply gotten used to finding errors in ebooks, and although they often may be things that general readers don’t notice, I do notice them and it is something I have come to expect from certain publishers (but that’s a topic for another time).
There is no question that this is a great beginning to a series about the characters and their place in the world and I am anxious for the next tale about Fred and Daniel and what they will face.(less)