“Manly, yes, but I like it too.”
– Irish Spring Soap commercial, circa 1980
“What is that you got? One of those vampire romance books?” [insert derisive chuckle]
I get it all the time from a bunch of guys I know – who have probably never read a paranormal fantasy novel (let alone any novel) in their adult lives. Religiously watching football, slamming back beers, and consuming dozens of red hot chicken wings just doesn’t mix with reading paranormal fantasy, right?
While I believe that the vast majority of paranormal fantasy appeals to both male and female readers, there are a few series that I think would particularly attract a more masculine audience.
The storyline follows a vampire hit man named Karl Vance after he gets involved in a looming turf war between two rival Boston crime families and becomes emotionally attached to Maria Ricardi, the beautiful and ambitious daughter of one of the crimes bosses.
I described Blood Vice thusly: “Imagine Bram Stoker writing a crime fiction epic, or Mario Puzo penning a vampire-powered thriller. Blood Vice is a perfect graft of noir fiction and paranormal fantasy…”
Reading books is like breathing for me – I do it all the time – and, truth be told, I get bored easily. It takes a lot for me to really get into a read; and I REALLY got into both Blood Vice and Ghost Soldiers. They are novels that you just can’t put down. Melton’s narrative is unrelenting. Here’s an example:
“She rolled into a crouch, feeling only an intense predator focus. More gun barrels followed her movement, and one of the men on her flank opened fire. Two bullets missed, but the third hit her just above the hip, punching into her guts. She staggered to the side, but her body started to heal almost immediately, her scalp an abdomen knitting together as he seep of her black blood slowed.”
But intermeshed amongst the action and adventure are some really profound lines and memorable imagery. It’s apparent that Melton is improving his craft – I thought Ghost Soldiers was a “tighter” novel than Blood Vice – and I really enjoyed reading lines like this:
• “In the end, everything burns… even dreams.”
• “His eyes seemed so blue. The color of a sky at the very edge of a storm, the no man’s land between storm gods and sun demons.”
• “Add nitroglycerin and shake well.”
Ghost Soldiers is a darker, more desperate read than Blood Vice – with less humor – and the plot (which pits the duo against an insane sorcerer who plans to “shake the world to its core,” a vampire hunter, creatures from another dimension, and countless organized crime thugs) was impressively intricate. And let’s not forget the cliffhanger…
If my grandfather were still alive today, he would undoubtedly say something like this: “Reading a book like Ghost Soldiers will put hair on your chest, boy.”
Mark my words when I say that Melton’s Nightfall Syndicate has the potential to be just as popular as Harrison and Harris’ aforementioned blockbuster series – all it needs is a little exposure.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
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