Thursday, January 1, 2009

Tregarde 02: Children of the Night (Lackey, M.)

Rating: 4/5
Year: 1990
Genre: Horror/Fantasy
Read again? Yes.
Warnings: None

This is the second of three Diana Tregarde novels, combining elements of horror, urban fantasy, and gumshoe mystery. In this one, Diana faces vampires in three flavors: psychic, soul-eater, and blood-sucker. There are, of course, romantic complications, since one of the psychic vampires is her ex-boyfriend Dave, and her new boyfriend is the blood-sucker, a charming Frenchman named Andre.

Dave plays rhythm guitar in a rock band called "Children of the Night"; such music they make! They're all vampires, as is their wealthy patron.

There's your sex and rock 'n' roll. What? The drugs? Yeah, well, they were at this party, man, right around Halloween, y'know? And the guy who was throwing the party passed around this Tupperware bowl full of blood-red pills, and Dave was like "Aaaaaahhhhhhh!" and then he woke up as a vampire, man. It was a total bummer, man.

At least he didn't wake up with a turkey head like the guy in that wonderful Thanksgiving film, "Blood Freak."

Diana manages to mention that she's a brown-belt in karate three times, and it's supposed to mean that she's some sort of bad-ass, but I'm nearly a brown-belt, myself, and can only get my ass whipped in Japanese. Belt rank doesn't mean you're any sort of a fighter; all it means is that you've done well in testing. At any rate, she doesn't do well in real-world--she tries punching a vampire and he simply catches her wrist. Hyyyyy--ahhhhh, bitch!! I think Steven Seagal could take her. The next time she goes up against a different vampire, a Japanese "gaki" demon, the soul-eating vampire. He's Japanese, so of course he knows karate, and he goes all Sonny Chiba on her ass with nunchaku (numchucks, to you Americans). This chick really needs to pick her fights a little better.

In all, she's an interesting character. She's got some pretty heavy magic skills, but is forced to make a living in the mundane world. She wants to write the Great American Novel, but her agent got her a contract job writing a crappy, boring romance. Her fatal flaw? She has debilitating panic attacks because of a demon that wanted to eat her. I like it--she has a calling as a sort of magical protector--a Guardian--and could drop into a panic attack at any moment if something trips her triggers. Her vampire-boyfriend helps her deal with it--and amazingly it only seems to take one evening for her to go from complete paralysis and hysteria to "well, that is scary." Too easy, and that sucked a little blood off the score.

My relationship with Mercedes Lackey's writing has lasted much longer than my relationship with the unlamented ex-girlfriend who introduced us back in 1995. For the first 6 years, Lackey was very close to pushing Roger Zelazny aside as my favorite author, period.

Now, not so much.

Her actual storytelling is typically good, if a bit heavy-handed, but I have issues with her dialog and "internal dialog" (where a character's thinking to himself), and it's mostly about word choice. One example that I can remember off the top of my head is that male or female, in this book three different people needing to go somewhere think to themselves, "I need to move my buns." It doesn't ring true, especially when one of the three is a plain old straight-up dude. In the book's setting of mid-70s New York City, I can't really see a straight guy thinking this unless he's being sarcastic. And it's not as if Lackey is being prudish, censoring out "dirty words," because in a different scene the same guy is sizing up a girl and admiring her ass, not her tail.

Then there's the over-use of "in the least" and "in no way" and similar phrases. It's part of her style, and it's in pretty much every book she writes. It's become somewhat distracting, so I cannot in the least let it by without sucking the rest of a point out of the score.

No comments: