Saturday, March 14, 2009

Review – Revamped by J.F. Lewis

Eric has lost his strip club, his Mustang, and even Marilyn, the elderly love of his (mortal) life. Even his body was obliterated. In short, they almost got him. But when you're a vampire, "almost" is a very important word. With a little magical help from his friends, Eric is restored to corporeal form, but his treasured Mustang gets caught up in the sorcery and winds up with an unlife of its own. Now, along with "Fang the 'Stang," he's out to save Marilyn from one of Void City's most powerful soul-stealing demons. But salvation comes at a high price, forcing Eric to venture into his own worst nightmare, Vampire High Society, to uncover the truth about the origin of his powers.

At the same time, Eric's ex-girlfriend, Tabitha, has begun to wonder exactly what it was that she admired about those High Society Vampires in the first place. Her quest to find her own place in this deceptively vicious circle may lead her right back to Eric's side -- if her little sister, Rachel, doesn't kill her first. And Eric will need all the help he can get, because it looks like someone is after his soul, too. Blood will flow, fangs will be bared, and the claws will come out, because revenge is never pretty...and Eric has plenty to pass around.
ReVamped is the follow-up to last year’s highly entertaining debut urban fantasy Staked. It is difficult to talk about this book or the series without some spoilers so hey you’ve been warned. Staked ended with a huge cliff-hanger as Eric, Marilyn and his strip club had just been blown to smithereens in a plot perpetrated by his best-friend Roger. Under the circumstances, Eric is rather blasé about it in the opening to ReVamped
“If you’ve never been blown up before, I can’t recommend it.”
In his ghostly but conscious state, Eric learns from his now equally ghostly ex-love Marilyn that her soul had been promised to a demon while under Roger’s compulsion as his thrall. And Roger may still be alive despite having been eaten by the werewolves in Staked. Saving Marilyn’s soul and exacting revenge on Roger becomes his mission making for a madcap adventure with a frenetic pace.

After months of effort, Eric’s mage on retainer Magbidion restores Eric to physical form in a ritual that mystically binds him to his beloved Mustang and turns it into a vampire car. Stephen King’s Christine has nothing on Fang the “Stang”. The car can operate on its’ own, and can attack and absorb prey (the bones are in the trunk). Eric’s equally macabre humour is reflected in my favourite line as he tells Greta –
“Take Fang.” I called after her. “Run over a cat or something. It’ll cheer you up.”
J.F. Lewis has a flair for eccentric and memorable characters. Here are just a few with a connection and interest in Eric.
  1. Winter, a high society vampire that loves to make bets and manipulate the situation to his satisfaction. Eric is caught up in his plotting.
  2. Phillip, a human sorcerer and self-made vampire who is the de facto shaker and mover of Void City. He has plans for Eric and knows too much and promises more.
  3. Talbot, one of Eric’s companions who is a mouser (shapeshifter) of ancient Egyptian origin.
  4. Rachel, a tantric witch, Eric’s current lover with her own devious agenda, recently back from the dead and with her own demon bargain.
  5. Tabitha, Eric’s ex-girlfriend and Rachel’s older sister, who is a Living Doll – a rare vampire type that can fully mimic a human.
  6. Magbidion, a geeky mage that wants to become Eric’s thrall for protection from his own bargain made to gain his sorcerers powers.
  7. Greta, Eric’s fiercely loyal daughter through turning (not family), quirky and odd
  8. Courtney, Eric’s old west family ghost that frequently appears with advice for Eric. Has it in for supernatural evil-doers. Is able to assist Eric in special situations.
  9. J’iliol’lth, the demon behind many of the bargains and Eric’s adversary. The most ordinary of the characters which just shows you how eclectic the rest of the cast is when a demon is the ordinary one.
These fascinating characters guarantee that there is never a dull moment in ReVamped. Everyone has their motivation and agenda all of them seeming to complicate Eric’s life. Eric himself is not the sharpest pencil in the cup, sometimes slow to recognize the obvious, often in denial about people that have it in for him. But he is loyal to a fault (needs a reality check), compassionate (a soft touch) and caring about innocents (even with his high body count), and seemingly indestructable. All of these attributes make Eric a fun, endearing and likable protagonist.

ReVamped is a turbo-charged dark urban fantasy, with laughs, love and lot’s of action. Does Roger finally get his comeuppance? Does Eric save Marilyn’s soul? Are Eric and Tabitha reunited? Just what is Rachel’s sinister plot? I had a lot of fun ready this one and finding out the answers to these questions. J.F. Lewis has a fresh and unique voice. If you haven’t read Staked, pick it up as well and read them together, you will be glad you did. In ReVamped Eric discovers who his maker is and I suspect the next Void City tale will have Eric hiving off after her (yes her). I’ll be along for the ride (but not in Fang!).

Simon & Schuster/Pocket Books
Published: March 10, 2009
ISBN #: 9781439102282
Format: Trade paperback
Pages: 388

Read an excerpt from Chapter 1.

Void City Series:

  1. Staked (2008)
  2. ReVamped (2009)
  3. Disavowed (tentative title)

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