“THE LAST VAMPIRE STANDING”
by Tony-Paul de Vissage, 2012
De Vissage and I employ a similar theme in our books, that of vampires warring against one another in hopes of achieving supremacy. So yeah, I'm down with the plot.
But instead of following the victor, de Vissage's story is about the loser of the fight, one Vladislaus Chemere. Early in the Fifteenth Century, Chemere attacks the vampire lord Rigla and is buried alive for his troubles. But the heart of the tale comes six hundred years later.
What follows is a light-hearted romp about Meredith, whose twin sister Valerie becomes a vampire and introduces Meredith to the denizens of the Night World. Meredith prefers to hang with another vampire, Sebastian, and his roommate, a werewolf named Dustin. As long as Meredith provides the guys with rare hamburgers, they're all good.
Dustin especially is a fun character. He speaks and acts with all the exuberance of a domesticated dog. He loves doggie biscuits and having his ears rubbed. He's not so much a wild predator, but that's a nice change.
Meanwhile, Vladislaus Chemere has escaped his prison and has Marius as his Renfield. Together they travel to Savannah, Georgia and plot revenge against Lord Rigla. Vladislaus amusingly comments that no one will expect them to make a home in Savannah... all the supernatural creatures live in New Orleans.
Vladislaus quickly runs into Sebastian and Valerie and makes allies of them. Preparations begin for a war against Rigla.
Kudos to de Vissage for stating that the Undead become taller after the transformation. I've only seen that used in the Aeneid and my own works. They also communicate telepathically, which becomes a major aspect of the story.
Vladislaus is rather chauvinistic, though. His vampire minions are always men, his werewolves are all male, and even the mortals who aid him are men. Valerie, the only undead woman in the group, is relegated to bed duty.
But then Vladislaus decides to meet Valerie's twin, Meredith. Immediately there's chemistry between the two with Vladislaus contemplating a ménage a trois with both sisters. But Meredith puts the kibosh on those plans. After all, Vlad is her sister's boyfriend. It just isn't going to happen.
Well, we know better, don't we? In one fell swoop, the novel goes from a supernatural warfare to a Harlequin romance. Suddenly world conquest is no longer in the forefront of Vladislaus’s mind but wedding plans!
Potentially, that could make this a silly story. But de Vissage handles it well, making it fun. In fact, it's hilarious as Vlad's manservant, Marius, is sent out to find a lookalike for Vlad so he can impregnate Meredith! (In de Vissage's universe, vampires are sterile.)
Adding to the fun, Roman, the lookalike, soon runs into Meredith accidently and begins to remember her.
As for Vladislaus's battle tactics, the Kevlar vests are a clever idea, but neither side seems prepared for a real vampire war. Vladislaus crashes through the window of Rigla's compound and announces he's going to kill his old enemy. Then he flies away and goes on a date with Meredith. When he's surrounded by Rigla's biker thralls he doesn't bust out an Uzi, he just plows in bare-handed. And if Rigla had been a better warlord, his thralls would have been prepared to fight vampires with silver bullets or garlic flamethrowers or something.
But then, the story's not really about the war to be the last vampire standing. It's about Vladislaus and Meredith and their relationship. This is not a horror story but a romance, and a very good one. And with enough action for the guys, there's nothing to keep any fan of supernatural tales from reading this book.