Sub-genre: Short story
So. The cover. Yeah, I'm glad this is an e-book, cuz if that cover was staring at me from my shelves (or, more likely, my boxes of books), I would be terrified. Running in the opposite direction terrified, because those chicks on the cover are clearly trying to eat my brains. They look so smug and psychotic... or maybe that glowing diamond thing between them is getting them hot. Either way, this is the kind of cover that I back slowly away from, hoping it won't notice my strategic retreat and think to follow. Nightmares.
I don't usually review short stories here, partly because they're such a different beast from novels, and partly because they're usually found in the midst of an anthology. With the advent of e-books, though, you can pick and choose your stories: only buy the novellas or short stories you want, for a special low price! How can you lose?
As a side note, I've been sitting on this review for awhile. Because short stories are so different from their longer counterparts, I have a harder time with them. Usually I feel like I'm just getting into the story, just starting to grasp the characters when the thing ends. This, combined with the fact that one of my usual reviews is as long as some of the short stories I've read makes this a challenge to write. But hey, I'm always up for something new, so let's see how this goes.
When Michael gets a call for help from childhood friend Charmaine, now a priestess known as Sister Margaret, he feels he can't turn it down. He's always carried some guilt over not standing up for her years ago when she needed it, which helped to turn her life down a difficult path. She's made a name for herself now, though, and although Michael knows better than to get involved with anything involving vampires, he sees the problem she's facing now as a way to make amends for the past. Of course the problem isn't as simple as it seems, and he doesn't find the big complication until it's almost too late.
Is it possible for a story to be simultaneously grim and fun? Because this one pretty much is. In the spirit of urban fantasy, there's equal parts intrigue and action, the battle against an evil vampire, and a plethora of folks living in a gritty reality. I loved Bayne, who isn't really a sidekick but fills the quirky content nicely, and the plot twist at the end is a great one, unexpected but logical.
The strength of the story, though, is Micheal's voice. The story is written in first person perspective, and Michael is competent, intelligent, and my favourite kind of reluctant hero. He doesn't really want to get involved, but he's obligated and will do what it takes to get the job done.
I can't say much more without giving away the entire story, so suffice it to say I really enjoyed it and wished there was more so I could continue with the characters and their world.
Sister Charmaine is available as an e-book in a ridiculous number of formats.