‘An Unattractive Vampire:’ Book Review

One of my favorite movies in recent memory is the 2014 What We Do in the Shadows (directed by and starring Taika Waititi who is currently directing the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok for Marvel), a delightful parody of all-things vampire and reality TV.  Shot in the faux-documentary style of The Office and following the daily lives of a group of vampires sharing a flat in New Zealand, What We Do takes on every vampire (and werewolf!) trope imaginable to hilarious effect.

In much the same vein (Pun intended!), Jim McDoniel's An Unattractive Vampire brings us the story of Master Yulric Dunnwulffe Bile.  A thousand-year-old denizen of the night, Bile is awakened from a long hibernation to discover, among all of the other modern-day advances, that vampirism has taken a decidedly sparkly, GQ-cover-shoot turn for the not-so-horrible.

Bile is a proper monster, you see.  Think The Master from the first season of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Petyr from What We Do in the Shadows, or Max Schreck's Nosferatu.  Definitely not a romantic seducer like Edward Cullen or even Gary Oldman’s Dracula.  And we won’t even think about those Salvatore brothers.

Bile is pitted against a group of modern vampires who are intent on reshaping their society according to the rules of “Proper Vampirism,” complete with recruitment pamphlets, achieving optimal physiques before being turned, no cussing, and sexual prowess.  Clearly a group in dire need of vanquishing.

The bulk of McDoniel’s writing is filled with pop culture references, witty descriptions, and asides.  These tend to be a bit too frequent, over-amplified, and are occasionally awkwardly phrased, but not so much so that it hampers the enjoyment of the story.  I kept expecting the densely packed jokes to get old, but the plot moved forward at a nice pace, the characters were interesting and likable (my favorite being Simon, an 8-year-old savant of all-things weird and nerdy who goes toe-to-toe with every monster he encounters and takes baths with a flair that Houdini would have admired), and even the “unattractive” Bile wormed his way into my heart before I’d gotten through even the first few chapters.

An Unattractive Vampire is quite simply a nice, fast, and enjoyable read.  A perfect book to take to the a sun-soaked, vampyre-free beach for a nice, relaxing day of reading…with not one sparkly vampire in sight.


P.S. A delightful viewing companion for this book is Supernatural episode "Live Free or Twihard" (Season 6, Episode 5), a lovely, little spoof of the Twilight phenomena in which Dean gets turned into a vampire because he’s “pretty”.

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