Thursday, February 7, 2013

Review of Subspecies, a novel by Mike Arsuaga

Maybe it’s not fair, Subspecies being the only vampire novel I’ve ever read, but I found the book refreshing in concept compared to all the vampire movie plots I’m aware of. To me, what made this novel different was that it provided a reasonable basis for the existence of vampires and werewolves, and treated them more like regular people—people who live for three hundred years or so … and drink blood … and eat other people. The novel also provided insight into the heightened physical senses of the characters in the story: better vision, outstanding hearing, a sense of smell a bloodhound would die for, great strength when morphed into their “otherworldly” self, and an elevated sex drive beyond normal comprehension despite being incapable of reproducing their kind. These vampires did not turn into bats, but they sure were horny.

Mr. Arsuaga presented his vampires and werewolves in a most original way, and his heightened grasp of the English language helped him do it. The book had an almost “Old World” tone to it because of the word selections used, something I found titillating. The main character is, after all, quite old, and one would expect he would drag forward into the modern world much of the manner of speaking from the past. I liked that.

The storyline goes something like this: boy vampire meets girl werewolf. They have a deep and meaningful relationship while filling their freezer with various body parts and, despite the species differences when morphed, manage to have a whooping good time in the bedroom doing all manner of things werewolves and vampires really enjoy. A police detective gets close to discovering the two have dispatched a few missing people, so they have to eat her. Despite their differences, they have a litter. And that’s where the next novel picks up.

I found the novel humorous, despite the gore. It was also quite sexually explicit, a little more than I normally choose, but hey, no one forced me to keep turning the pages. There is also a content warning on the first page, and I am over eighteen—way over. The book was very well written and extremely well edited. I applaud that; both are difficult to achieve.

So, here’s my assessment. High marks for originality, writing and editing; a little less for plot. Explicit content warning must be heeded. Overall, a solid 4.5 stars.

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