I’m just old enough to have hated the Seventies while I was living them, and just removed enough to get kinda nostalgic about them now–especially the Seventies in the South.
So I went into Alex Bledsoe’s first 1970s Memphis vampire story, Blood Groove, with some trepidation. I mean, you know–afros and bell-bottoms and platform shoes and disco? Open racism and rednecks? Add a centuries-old European vampire to the mix, one who’s been out of circulation since 1915?
It’s utterly awesome. Funny and irreverent and horrifying all at once. It’s a new breed of urban fantasy tilting to the horror side of the scale. These are not your sexy, romantic vampires a la JR Ward. In fact, these vamps might be able to incite debilitating lust in you with the look of an eye, but you really don’t want to go down that road.
Baron Rudolfo Zginski is setting in in Memphis in the sequel, The Girls with Games of Blood, and he finds himself experiencing 1970s life with a bit more ease, even to the point of learning to drive and developing a “guy thing” about his classic Mustang. He’s also developing most-unZginski-like feelings for the young female vampire Fauvette, which annoys him, and has managed to make a mortal enemy of a “Walking Tall” Buford Pusser-like ex sheriff with a baseball bat and a mean temper.
With the world from Blood Groove well established, Bledsoe manages to pull us into the rural outskirts of Memphis for a Southern Gothic tale of vampiric sisters with a long feud over the man who done ’em wrong. Mix in Zginski’s machinations, Leonardo’s exploration of racial issues with a long-term human blood donor, and Fauvette’s frustrations over her need to feed and her feelings for Rudy, and it all goes South fast.
The Girls with Games of Blood is fast read and a good read, and has another ending (I’m still having nightmares over the ending to the first book) that made me shudder.