Paranormal fantasy is no longer a small pond with a few big fish – it’s a vast lake filled with all different kinds of cold-blooded, aquatic wordsmiths. Yeah, there are a few enormous sharks (LKH, Kim Harrison, Charlaine Harris, etc.), a whole lot of barracudas (Marjorie Liu, Adrian Phoenix, Stacia Kane, Marcus Pelegrimas, etc.), countless up-and-coming piranha (Jaye Wells, Nicole Peeler, Kelly Meding, etc.) but that weird looking flat thing with purple glowing eyes lurking at the bottom of the lake – that’s J.F. Lewis.
But although Staked was an undeniably impressive debut – it made numerous “Best Of the Year” lists – many readers remember it as the infamous book that got J.F. Lewis excommunicated from his church! (Just google “excommunicated author” to get the whole story…)
Being a religious pariah evidently didn’t slow Lewis down – in 2009, he released ReVamped, the second installment of his Void City saga, to rave reviews. Publishers Weekly recommended it to “vampire fans who like their blood and gore leavened with humor,” Mario Acevedo described it as "a pedal-to-the-metal demolition derby of sex and violence,” and I likened the first two novels to “literary methamphetamine. The best thing to hit paranormal fantasy in years.”
Throw in Fang, Eric’s undead vintage Mustang controvertible; werewolves on motorcycles; glow-in-the-dark demon brains; Nazis; a sister-in-law who is an oversexed tantric witch; and you’ve got yourself an utterly readable story!
The Void City series is arguably one of the most well written paranormal fantasy sagas out there – the character development is truly remarkable (particularly the female leads Greta, Rachel, and Tabitha), Lewis’s ability to create an intricate storyline that is fluid and fast-paced is equally noteworthy, but it’s his narrative voice – intelligent, sarcastic, and unrepentant – that makes these novels so memorable.
“Straddling David’s waist, I buried my fangs in his throat, tore out a hunk, and spat it onto the asphalt. Secondhand blood crossed my lips and it felt like I was stealing his kill, robbing him of the life he had taken tonight. Just like fruit, blood tastes sweeter when it’s stolen. He struggled, so I put my thumb into his other eye. He shrieked like a baby when it popped, the wetness running out of the socket and covering my hand. It’s good for the skin…”
That said: paranormal fantasy fans looking for something unusual – an unapologetically brutal and sexy and funny saga – should seek out and read the Void City novels by J.F. Lewis.
Welcome to the Void… don't say I didn't warn you.
"There is beauty in monstrosity, wonder in diversity, and to these simple truths even the gods must confess." – ReVamped, p. 107
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for almost the last two decades and has written more than 6,000 reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, and BarnesandNoble.com. In his free time, he reads.