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Stake Sauce #1

Stake Sauce, Arc 1: The Secret Ingredient Is Love. No, Really

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ARC 1, IN WHICH: A cute punk-rock vampire and a disabled firefighter-turned-mall-cop with a dark past join forces to battle the forces of evil.

Jude used to leap out of helicopters to rescue/protect people from terrifying infernos. Now, by day, he protects the local mall from rowdy teenagers who ride their skateboards inside. By night, he protects the the parking lot, and the rest of Portland, from undead, bloodsucking creatures of the darkness. Or would if he could find them.

Pixie refuses to bite anyone. Assault/murder/draining fluids isn’t punk, even if being a vampire really kind of is. He’s very hungry by now, and the much bigger, meaner, deadlier vamps kick him around on the nightly. Jude would love to find and fight some actual undead bullies. And Pixie could use some help staying… ‘alive.’ Time to make a deal.

Of course, life still sucks when you’re a vampire who refuses to suck blood. Fortunately, there’s a really interesting new barbecue restaurant in the mall, with an intriguing new recipe. (They say the secret ingredient is… love. No, really.)

193 pages, Kindle Edition

First published October 31, 2017

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About the author

RoAnna Sylver

25 books262 followers
RoAnna Sylver is passionate about stories that give hope, healing and even fun for LGBT, disabled and other marginalized people, and thinks we need a lot more. Aside from writing oddly optimistic dystopia and vampire books, RoAnna is a blogger, artist, and singer.

RoAnna lives with family near Portland, OR, and probably spends too much time playing videogames. The next adventure RoAnna would like is a nap in a pile of bunnies.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 58 reviews
Profile Image for Tyler J Gray.
2 books · 220 followers
June 7, 2019
I love how the writing is accessible and flows easily, yet manages to deal sensitively with hard topics. I was in a house fire years ago. And while I was saved by my neighbor and physically made it out ok (barely) I have PTSD from it. This book deals a lot with fire, and ptsd. And I loved every bit of it. It's not something that's easy for me to get through. But I absolutely love RoAnna's stories! Well this is the third book of theirs i've read so far (i've also read Chameleon Moon and Moon-Bright Tides-loved both of those as well!).

Just like Chameleon Moon and Moon-Bright Tides it has characters i've fallen in love with and deals with real life issues in a sensitive and healthy way. All without being too long (though i'd gladly spend more time with the characters). And of course it's all with a dash or 2 of fantasy (like vampires in this case).

I don't think i'll ever make it through one of RoAnna's books without at least getting teary.
Profile Image for Mariam.
908 reviews · 65 followers
November 10, 2017
An amazing story about love, friendship, consent, one’s own need for revenge, and never giving up. In its heart, Stake Sauce has such an amazing set of characters. I will definitely be looking forward to more of this universe.

Full review on my blog.
Profile Image for Nicole Field.
18 books · 143 followers
February 7, 2018
OMGOMGOMG I just love RoAnna's beautiful and insightful work. And what an original and completely captivating take on vampires! An absolute breath of fresh air.

In August last year, I read and reviewed the first act of Stake Sauce, Going Through The Motions, and knew I couldn't wait until it was all packaged together, all six acts.

(As it turned out, I could wait on reading it as I'm a little late to the table in getting this review out...)

Jude is the main character, as briefly discussed in the review of act one. However, something I do not remember noticing on my first read through of that is: Jude's trans. It doesn't come up much. He's mentioned as having faded top surgery scars, and later mentions to Jasper that Jasper was the first person he spoke to about being trans, and Jasper was the first person to ever call Jude a man. I'm not sure if I missed it on first reading, or whether the final copy I hold in my hands now was edited from the original version I read.

Getting to properly meet Pixie was wonderful. What an amazing character! Actually, all the characters were wonderful, fully fleshed out.

And the parts about Felix!!! Oh my goodness, RoAnna knows how to tug on those heart strings. It was so perfectly set up, right from the very start, and then it paid off marvellously.

Towards the end, Jude mentioned to Pixie something about a polyamorous arrangement between him, Felix and Jasper... I'm not sure I noticed that being hinted at earlier in the story, but hey, I won't complain about the rep! I'll have to read it again soon and go looking for earlier hints. What a hardship! :D

Other representation in this story: disability, asexuality, aromanticism, PTSD. I'm sure there are other ones, they are just the ones that jump out at me.

I don't know why, but I hadn't heard about the beautiful artwork within this novel, something that I wanted to actually spotlight. I am a huge fan of the tarot. Each of the breaks between the six acts of this book were accompanied by a full page illustration of one of the major arcana. And they were absolutely beautiful. I definitely stopped and stared at each of them, which also offered a nice pause in the reading.

Now, I notice it says Arc 1 up there, and I have some things I want to know. Like, will Eva be getting her own story? Will there be more explicit polyamory in the next arc? Will there be bigger and badder vampires, like the one who sired Pixie? RoAnna has left so much of this rich world open for continued exploration and I, for one, cannot wait to get going into the next arc.
Profile Image for Devann.
2,434 reviews · 134 followers
August 14, 2018
This was so cute! The only thing I've read by Sylver before was a short F/F mermaid/witch story so it was nice to read something a bit longer and really get a better feel for her style. I think her stories are really great because they have both funny and serious parts and also her characters are very unique and memorable. Also I think this is the first time I've ever even seen 'aro-ace' mentioned in a book so congrats for throwing that out there [even though the character is actually grey but I mean hey at least it was MENTIONED as like an actual thing instead of every ace being ~super romantic~ to 'make up for it' like in most books].

Anyway, just a really fun story with a lot of great representation and also some great illustrations at the beginning of each act as well. I really like the one for act 6 because it's the lovers tarot card but it has a whole group of people on it instead of just a man and a woman. Can't wait to read more from this author!

Profile Image for 'Nathan Burgoine.
47 books · 417 followers
January 28, 2018
This title is part of the awesome Kraken Friends 2018 deal, January 26th to February 1st, 2018!

Hello! A couple of days ago, I did an interview with RoAnna Sylver, and we talked characters, rep, and inspiration. Today I want to focus a bit more on Stake Sauce (Arc 1: The Secret Ingredient is Love. No, Really).

I read this over the last week leading up to the Kraken Collective anniversary celebration (which includes nineteen fabulous queer spec-fic titles on sale, and you should check it out), and it was a freaking blast.

Full review up on my blog"
Profile Image for Sinead Anja (Huntress of Diverse Books).
187 reviews · 56 followers
December 9, 2017
Check out my book blog for more book reviews and other bookish posts!

I received an ARC of Stake Sauce from the author. I enjoyed RoAnna Sylver’s previous writing, and was intrigued to read a story that had a very different premise (i.e. vampires) than her other work.

This book is #ownvoices for asexual, transgender and poly relationship representation.


The worldbuilding isn’t very detailed, which fits to the narrative style of the text. The story is told in first-person by a character who is not part of the vampire world. Thus, the reader only finds out what the character finds out about the world. This led to a relatively slow pacing. I thought that the pacing suited the writing style. I do however wish that we had found out more about the vampire world, as there were not enough details for me. I wanted to know more about the witch and how she interacts with vampires, and exactly what happened to the vampires in the last few years.

I loved the different, nuanced characters and the development they underwent. The book focusses quite heavily on dealing with loss. This theme is a major part of three characters, and it was interesting to see how different ways of dealing with grief were shown. There’s also a strong focus on consent, which I thought was marvelous!

The chapters have opening illustrations, and I would like to draw the attention of soon-to-be readers to the opening illustration of Act 6. It’s the Lovers tarot card, and instead of showing the usual man-and-woman couple, this one shows 7 different people. I thought that was pretty cool!


I enjoyed Stake Sauce a lot. It wasn’t quite as detailed as I would have wanted it to be, and it wasn’t quite my story. However, I am pretty sure that it will be a five star read for a lot of you!
Profile Image for Laura.
1,737 reviews · 47 followers
December 11, 2017
OMG, this book!!!

For about the first half of the book it was a little slow paced for me, but then all of a sudden, everything changed and I was absolutely hooked. These characters are all so wonderfully nuanced and the FRIENDSHIP is so beautiful and important. I especially love some of the later scenes between Jude and Jasper where they’re talking about how their recovery isn’t at the same point and has to take different paths.

This is such a unique take on vampires and I want more. This is a bright, shining spot of hope among too many dark vampire stories. I adore Pixie; he’s such a precious bby and definitely the brightest character of the entire story.

And omggggg, that ending where Jude and Pixie hold hands is soooooo beautiful, my heart just wanted to burst with all the bright, bubbly feelings~

My only problem with this book had been the beginning feeling slow for my tastes, but once we started getting more backstory and the mystery took over more of the plot, I was hooked. This is definitely an important story and one I hope more people get to experience cuz it really is such a bright, shining hope with a wonderfully diverse cast who are learning to live after surviving, beautiful found family and friendships that are #goals, and healing in so many different ways. Ugh, I’m currently a mess of feelings.
Profile Image for Pam.
802 reviews · 25 followers
July 4, 2020
Umm...it's only been three days, and I kinda forgot I read this already!! Yikes. I did like a lot about it, but I wouldn't recommend it for anyone who gets frustrated with incomplete story arcs. There are a lot of plot threads introduced here, and only one has reached any kind of satisfying climax by the end.
That's the one described in the blurb, but it's such a small part of the book it feels like a very misleading description. I might have felt satisfied with it at that point if this was a shorter installment, but at this length I needed something more to have come from at least one more of the main plot points. As it is, I'm not fully convinced there will be a satisfying enough exploration of any of them by the end. 

It's very different, which I liked, and I did like the humor with Pixie, but that really is a small part of the book. The rest of it is about grief and trauma and not at all as light-hearted as I was expecting, which isn't a complaint but just so you don't let that blurb confuse you. It was intriguing enough to search out the blurb for book 2 ... but that doesn't exist yet. 

It's just way too early to tell if this is going to be worth the effort without having any familiarity with the author's other series. It's possible I'd feel differently if she'd earned my trust already, but the whole thing just feels too iffy right now.
Profile Image for Sinamile .
378 reviews · 7 followers
June 16, 2020
CW/TW: fire, gore, PTSD, crucifixion

“Hey, Jude.”

You know that feeling when you finally finish a book and you just let our a breath and it's one of just poor joy? Yeah. That's me with this book. I absolutely adore it, okay.

I already knew from the get go that I was going to love this. I've only read two other RoAnna Sylver books but they brought me such happiness that I knew this one wouldn't disappoint me either. And I was, of course, correct.

I love everything about this book. I love the characters and the plot and just, everything. I love Jude with all my heart and I'm not going to list all the characters but just know that every single one of them is in my heart and I love them so much!

Also: Act Six (6) came to rip out my heart over and over and over again. Just everything about act six made me feel good. And the conversation between Jude and Pixie about Jude's sexuality makes me happy. AND again, I appreciate that we find that Jude is trans without having to deadname him. We stan.

P. S. You know, I had this feeling about this pairing in this book and I kept squinting at it each time it was mentioned (or there were interactions between the pair) and I thought it was a possibility (and this being a RoAnna Sylver book, I knew it could happen), but wanting and hoping for it to happen and then actually having it confirmed are two different things and I need y'all to know that it was confirmed and my heart has seen heaven and it is beautiful.
Profile Image for Karen.
1,406 reviews · 108 followers
January 12, 2018
I really enjoyed this one!

The first half has a slower pace and was heavy on backstory (Jude's grief, his deteriorating friendships with Eva and Jasper, obsession with vampires and revenge) andleading up the second half which was quite action packed and pretty gruesome - which I could handle but might be tough for the faint of heart . The change might be a little jarring or too slow at first for some but I liked it. It's an odd, dark yet optimistic little story.

Besides just being a great vampire yarn - there's also disability, consent, trans, ace/aro/grey, poly rep - even though it's not the main focus.

I also really loved how the relationships were portrayed. This is a chosen family. There are little hints here and there at romance(s) but their love for each other transcends that and it was really beautiful.

Stake Sauce Arc 1 tells a complete story but ends on a note that leaves room for more further adventure and character development.

A few quibbles:

Profile Image for Natalie Cannon.
7 books · 20 followers
May 29, 2018
Stake Sauce has a lot of things I like: a cast of queer (aka not straight) characters of color, a punk fashion sense, friends-as-family/found families, and urban magical creature shenanigans. As soon as I read the blurb, I wanted to dive in and love this. After reading though, I think Stake Sauce is a few drafts away from a full five stars.

After the brutal death of their coworker Felix, friends Jude, Eva, and Jasper quit being firefighters and work at a shopping mall in Portland. Their coping mechanisms and grief drive them down different paths: Eva is the mall superintendent and focused on the future; Jasper changes personas like he's trying to live every kind of life while running a cross between a thrift store and little shop of horrors; and Jude fancies himself a good mall cop and a vampire hunter seeking justice for Felix's death. And then in drops Pixie, a newly turned vampire who wants to escape his creator and get the older vampires to stop bullying him.

So yeah, there's a lot going on. Sylver's serial fiction is highly character-driven, and each person feels fully formed on the page, even if they don't let the reader in on their secrets. We learn the most about Jude, who is the POV character, but each character's arc is so realized that it feels like any of them could have told the story. The conflicts and plot feel organic, and the fact that I could guess the end twist doesn't bother me so much. The Portland setting feels uncanny and spooky, friendly and unfriendly all at once. As other reviewers have noted, mental health, death, grieving, consent, and (romantic) friendship are big, well-developed themes.

This love of character and theme is all well and good, but unfortunately, and I can already feel a flush of embarrassment crawling up my neck, I didn't like Jude. Who is the POV character. Who we learn the most about. And spend the most time with. After a certain point of Jude being Jude, the story tanked for me.

I can't decide whether Jude is too much like me and my disaster of a self, or too opposite of me and my remaining logos functionality. Jude says he goes out nightly to hunt vampires. There's pages and pages of talk about how to properly deal with trauma and facing truth. This gave me the impression that Jude knew what he was doing. He talks a big game, says he's done research. I believed him.

Reader, he does not know what the f*ck he is doing. He freezes mid-vampire attack not once, but three times. The writing yanks itself into an entire PTSD flashback mid-action scene. Before the final battle, as it were, Jude makes a huge deal about getting the key to the tunnels, how he might not come back alive, but then arms himself with blood-laced steak sauce and nothing else! Another character comes onto the scene who plainly knows what she is doing, and Jude has the utter gall to question her at every turn.

It was too much for me. I'm unsure if Jude's recklessness was meant as PTSD symptoms because he also about wallowed in how "well" he faced the trauma of Felix's death. There's facing fears and then there's facing fears unprepared and getting murdered. You don't do the later, let alone repeat the later, and claim any mental wellness. His audacity ran into the Green Principle, where I start losing sympathy with a character if they're too much of an idiot. In addition to the Green Principle activating, a mysterious character's name is accidentally revealed in narration and a non-Catholic character receives hand wounds and repeatedly calls them Stigmata wounds. The book lost me there.

While reading, I could tell Sylver wrote the piece to dwell on themes and the characters, particularly the disability, ace/aro, polyam, gay, and transgender representation. Whatever else I think about the story, I know that the rep and themes of the work are important to a lot of people, and I wouldn't want to change those aspects. My reaction to Jude and my disappointment over other details don't take away from the other good writing going on in Stake Sauce. Jude's not my cup of tea, but I'm looking forward to Moon-Bright Tides, which I also have on my Kindle. While I'm not going to recommend Stake Sauce to everyone, I will recommend it to everyone thirsty for good queer representation. That's where the story shines.
Profile Image for Simon.
1,457 reviews · 9 followers
March 8, 2018
It took me a little while to warm up into this book - after finishing I realized that was because it took me a little while to warm up to the characters - not surprising as they've all experienced recent trauma and their struggles with it form the backbone of this book. But I was racing along by the end, desperate to know how things were going to turn out, how they were going to turn out.

I think one of the things I liked best about this book came at the very end when two women are talking. Most of the book centered around Jude and his male friends which was fine, but there's a brief moment when the women are talking about what's coming next and mention that "now the boys are going all soul-searching", and that little slip of a line grounded the whole book (and the one to follow, I assume) in the whole set of relationships, and that pleased and excited me.

And the images fronting each chapter are glorious!
Profile Image for CW ✨.
644 reviews · 1,695 followers
November 13, 2020
I was provided a copy of this book by the author in exchange for a book review.
Profile Image for iam.
973 reviews · 129 followers
January 19, 2019
Stake Sauce, Arc 1 is the first book in a mystery series featuring vampires, the arcane and found family.

Content warnings include:

For some reason this took me a lot longer to read than length of the book warrants.
The writing was good (though there were quite a few editing errors), the story engaging, I really adored the cast of diverse characters, and yet...

One thing that I can definitely tell didn't work for me was the fight and action scenes. The timing was so off, which seemingly huge stretches of time where characters do nothing. Obviously the focus can only ever be on one character or one action at a time, so parallel events have to be told sequentially, but in this case it truly seemed like the events were happening one after another which just... didn't work out. The majority of vampires here seem to be extremely fast, like moving-so-fast-you-can't-even-see-them, so it didn't make sense to me that ages seem to pass where the human character do.... something and the vampires just.... wait? Stare? Watch? Apparently do nothing, before the focus of the humans shifts back and then the attacks/actions resume. Idk what was up with that, maybe I read these scenes wrong/misinterpreted them, they just really didn't work for me.

What I really loved was the diverse cast of characters. Jude, the protagonist, is gay and grey-aro-ace, trans, has PTSD and wears a prothesis, Eva is aro-ace as well, Jasper has migraines, Pixie is chubby, and while we don't know the identities of all the other characters, all of them are queer (or seem to be) and there's a poly relationship in the works!

I also loved the tarot card drawings at the beginning of each chapter. They were so beautiful, and I believe drawn by the author. I recommend looking at them on a device that displays colour if you buy this as ebook.

Overall a very nice read that I wish had done more for me because the stats on paper are awesome, and I recommend anyone to give it a chance!
Profile Image for Briony Appleton.
1 book · 38 followers
November 21, 2017
Rating: 5/5 Stars
 I received a copy of this novel from the author in exchange for an honest review. 
 I was super excited to get the chance to read Stake Sauce Arc One. Before this I hadn't, to my shame read any of RoAnna Sylver's books. Although Chameleon Moon and it's ilk have been sitting cosily in my Kindle library for a couple months now. I went in expecting to like what I read, since I trust the reviews of the people I follow on Goodreads. I was not expecting to fall in love with it like I did.
 Usually when I go in writing reviews I start with what I liked and go on to talk a bit about what I didn't and there are a couple of things I have to say about possible changes but otherwise I couldn't not give this book five stars. In hindsight my issues seemed pretty minor in comparison with how much I adored everything else about this damn book.

 So I guess I have to translate gushing into an actual review now, huh?

 Well, I loved the plot. It was fast moving in all the right places and it developed really nicely. It moved at a steady pace, peaked at the right points and I really get on with Sylver's writing style. They have an eloquent writing voice that does a really good job of navigating quite difficult portions of sub-narrative. They take their time with their character's emotions and I can really feel how much they care about what happens to everyone from within the text itself. That's not something I've ever experienced from a book before.

Read the Full Review Here: https://www.missbriony.com/single-post/steaksaucearconereview
Profile Image for Kimberly (kimberly_reads).
260 reviews · 20 followers
January 13, 2019
I absolutely loved this story. The characters were so well developed and complex, there’s no way I am able to pick a particular character as a favorite. With that said, I believe Jude is the one who hold a special place in my heart because I felt the most understood while taking in his perspective. I can’t wait to delve into more of RoAnna’s work and can’t recommend reading this for yourself enough!
Profile Image for Heather.
393 reviews
March 18, 2020
“How do you know, though?” Pixie pressed, with the slightest edge of desperation. “Five years ago you didn’t believe in vampires. A couple days ago, you didn’t think you’d ever have a conversation with one. What are you gonna believe in tomorrow?”

I... <3

I had no idea what this release was about going into it; it was a Christmas gift from Karla. I read the synopsis and thought it was adorable though.

Then I got into it and it was so... pure and beautiful.

Jude is a retired firefighter, he used to rescue people and run into blazes until one night, his crew heads to the site of a blaze and things go horrible wrong and one of his crewmates is killed. Jude is absolutely certain he knows what he saw in the fire: a vampire, big and powerful enough to take off Jude's leg just below the knee and tear Felix's heart out of his chest. Jasper, a crewmember who made it out alive, doesn't want to talk about that night for several reasons, one of which is that Felix was the man he was gonna marry and now he's gone. And Eva, who was in a helicopter that night, doesn't believe anything Jude is saying, she just wants him to do his new job as a security guard at a mall.

But that job is tough for Jude. He has a bad case of PTSD from the night of that blaze and believes he's seeing vampires all over the mall, and any time he tries to tell Eva or talk to Jasper, he's shut down.

One night though, tangible proof of what Jude has believed in the five years since that incident comes crashing through his window. And he's saying that he needs Jude's help to stop the big evil vampires dwelling under the mall.

I wish I had the money to support Sylver on Patreon because I'd love to see the further adventures of these characters.
Profile Image for DB (DB's Guide to the Galaxy).
215 reviews · 62 followers
December 8, 2017
Amazon link: https://www.amazon.com/RoAnna-Sylver/...
My blog link: https://dbsguidetothegalaxy.wordpress...
RoAnna's blog link: https://sylvernebulae.wordpress.com/

This book is fantastic. I love it. Buy a thousand copies and hand it out to a thousand people. Buy yourself a personal copy. Buy another one to frame on your wall – it’s that good. It strikes something personal in your heart and just makes you want to adopt all of the characters (which I really want to do) and care for them and give them everything they want. Now onto the actual review.

I love vampires. I have no idea why I don’t read more vampire books. I was a total Team Edward chick (Jasper and Emmett definitely helped with that) and definitely rooted for all the vampires that were lurking around in Mystic Falls (not hard to do when there were barely any werewolves). So yes, I love vampires. And when I heard this was a vampire book I instantly jumped on board. But this isn’t just a vampire story, or a story about vampires. It’s a story about friendships, about love, romantic and platonic.

Let’s just talk about the aro ace rep. And grey rep if you’re talking about Jude. That’s all I really want in life – good representation. That’s all anyone wants in life. That and the fact that the romantic and sexual orientation isn’t a great big part of the story – which is actually great!

And that trauma and grief! I mean I could say ‘hey, don’t give me any of that. I need sunshine in my life’ but then I would be lying to myself because I read just as much angsty fiction as lovey-dovey fiction. And who needs sunshine when you’re a vampire, right? Anyway, I thought it was handled quite well (the trauma and grief) – something which needs to be seen again in fiction.

Pixie is my favourite – ok, everyone is my favourite and they all have to deal with that which means you have to deal with me having tens of millions of favourite characters because that’s how it works in the book community. If you are able to choose a favourite character, you’re probably either very tired while reading the book or extremely distracted. Both of which I am. All the time and at the same time. But yes, Pixie is my main favourite in the novel. And then comes Jasper.

So there’s the review. What are you still doing here? Go and read it!
Profile Image for K. Lincoln.
16 books · 92 followers
November 24, 2017
(provided a copy of this book in return for honest review)

So this is a dear, little oddball of a book. It's about a group of ex-Firemen who have retired after one of their group is killed in a fire. Eva is a mall security head. Jude is one of her security officers, and Jasper runs a magic store.

They are all trying to live with the pain of having lost Felix, who was Jasper's finance, but also had a very close relationship with the other two. This story is mostly told from Jude's perspective. As the story unfolds, (I think) we learn that Jude has had major changes in his life, has a prosthetic leg, and also never really had a romantic relationship before. We also learn that he's been seeing these punk kids at the mall that are vampires. He keeps trying to tell Eva that, but understandably she thinks he's a bit crazed by grief.

The story suffers at time from a bit of vagueness. Most of the story is the main characters (including Pixie, a cutie who comes tumbling into Jude's life and forces the action to start) talking to each other about grief and love. This is wonderful. And because of the diversity represented in the genders and romantic orientations of the main characters, quite interesting. I really liked Jude.
However, at times I wanted to slap him for agreeing to do things like, oh, confront major villains in subterranean dens with no other weapon except a bottle of steak sauce. (not even a baseball bat? Or a stake? Or nunchucks or something?). That was a bit frustrating at times.

However, with the mindset that this is story about a group of people who love each other and are broken by the death of a member, instead of focusing on the practicalities of fighting vampires, I enjoyed it much more. Cool illustrations of tarot cards throughout as an extra bonus.
Profile Image for Lynds.
91 reviews · 8 followers
August 18, 2022
3.5 stars

This book has been on my radar ever since I really started to look for book with a-spec representation and I finally sat down and read it over the last couple days of July. Then life got busy and I forgot to finish my review, but better late than never right?

I really liked the characters and the idea of the story (who doesn't love queer vampires?) but I just wanted more of it. The story seemed to both to move to fast and too slow. The plot felt like there was not much going on until all of a sudden the main action began and then resolved itself super quickly.

While the plot was lacking, the character exploration and representation was pretty good. Throughout the story the main character Jude and his two best friends are all struggling with ptsd and grief because of an accident when they were all firefighters that killed the fourth member of their group and left Jude with only one leg. The book does a good job of showing the many ways people can deal with that sort of trauma, and that no way is better than the others. On top of its disability representation, it is also chock full queer rep, with the main character Jude being trans, grey-romantic and grey-ace (which I think is the first time I have ever seen the "grey" label used in a book!). This book is ultimatley a book about trauma, friendship, and love with a cheesy vampire subplot, and while the plot could use some work, I am glad this book exists.
Profile Image for Laina SpareTime.
478 reviews · 19 followers
January 1, 2021
Cross-posted from my blog where there's more information on where I got my copy and links and everything.

This was really fun! Y’all know I’ve been talking about queer vampire books for A While (since 2017) now and this is exactly that. This is very, very heartfelt but also knows when not to take itself too seriously, and when to enjoy some of the more funny and lighthearted moments. ‘

I also really appreciated how much it valued friendship. There are romantic relationships in the book, but friendship and platonic relationships are treated as just as important. That really is so refreshing and wonderful.

Luce and I read this together and that was also really fun. Can’t wait to check out the sequel!

Representation: …basically everyone is some shade of queer. There are gay, trans, multiple aroace characters, much queerness. Jude is also an amputee. It’s v cool.

Content notes: Fire, kidnapping, crucification, bit of blood content obviously because vampires, mild violence and trauma following the death of a loved one.

Look at me reading outside of my comfort zone! And it was very enjoyable.
Profile Image for Jessie.
1,969 reviews · 26 followers
January 21, 2018
Jude is grayro and gray-ace (and trans and disabled), and I love him. I love that he tries to be a vampire hunter, isn't prepared to actually hunt vampires at all, but will still try for the people he cares about. Pixie is punk and a delight (and the cutest guitar-playing bat, y'all) who cares so much about consent. Eva is aroace and protective and healing .

I appreciated that everyone here is healing at their own paces and in their own ways, and I love how much they need each other, how key that is to the story.

Some of the pacing didn't quite work for me, and there were a couple of spots that I thought could have done with a little more editing. But I love RoAnna's characters and how hopepunk all their stories are.
Profile Image for Kit (Metaphors and Moonlight).
886 reviews · 123 followers
April 6, 2018
2 Stars

This book was really slow to start, and I struggled to get into it. I felt like Jude had no personality, and his voice felt flat. This also just wasn't what I was expecting because it was very focused on grief, trauma, and healing, and most of the book consisted of Jude thinking about how he and his friends were coping, discussions between him and his friends about how they were coping, etc. I also had some issues with things in the plot and character reactions to things. What I did like though was all the diversity that was included. Jude was trans, gray aro/ace, mentally ill (PTSD), and physically disabled (prosthetic lower leg). The other main characters were diverse in various ways as well. And though I can't say for sure, the rep seemed good. Overall the book wasn't for me, but other people may enjoy it more than I did.

Original Review @ Metaphors and Moonlight
Profile Image for M D..
21 reviews
October 25, 2017
If you can’t tell by the cover of this book that it’s awesome. Well, it’s awesome!!! I started reading this book before bed which was probably not a good idea because I didn’t get much sleep with my eyes glued to my e-reader. The main character Jude is a ex-firefighter mall cop turned vampire hunter who survived a brutal vampire attack that killed one of his friends and took his leg years back. I’m not going to share much of the story because I want you to read it for yourselves but fate kinda fell through his living room window with pink hair and said, ���Let’s do this.” Then there were vampires. … A memory or a dream? maybe both? Also, just a hint if your reading. The bird mask? That’s important. … :) Now go grab a copy already and enjoy. :D
Profile Image for Kaa.
560 reviews · 51 followers
November 10, 2017
Somehow I ended up reading back-to-back consent-focused vampire stories? Which is obviously awesome. Plus this book is super queer !

Stake Sauce does a really fantastic job of being funny without diminishing the darker parts of the story. I thought the handling of trauma and grief was much more nuanced than one often sees in fiction. This arc has a pretty limited cast and setting (most of the action taking place at the mall or the apartments where they all seem to live), but it works to make a very focused book that has plenty of both action and character development. The world-building is also limited so far, but completely sufficient and appropriate for this plotline - I'm anticipating learning more as the story continues.

This is just the first arc in an on-going story, and I am so so excited to get to see more of all of these wonderful characters!
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