Today’s Book Review – The Vampire Henry by Michael Walker
Sick of vampires who glitter? Who run around in the sun, looking all hunky and moody? Then meet Henry Lovell – the Vampire Henry. Nothing glamorous about Henry. He’s a working-class stiff (no pun intended) and aspiring writer who just happens to drink blood to survive. He may or may not be immortal, but he knows one thing – life is Short baby, so drink up. . . This then is the tale of the Vampire Henry. It is a story like a lot of other stories really: full of messy mistakes, heroes and villains, survivors and victims – blood, sweat, and tears. Oh yeah. . . There’s a Lot of blood. .
From reading the book description, I wasn’t quite sure what I would encounter. A fast-paced adventure? A sadistic horror story? I’ve read a multitude of vampire stories in my time, so many images flashed in my mind. The only thing I knew for certain was that it would not be like the Twilight series or the Vampire Diaries.
What I discovered was a unique gem in vampire fiction. An extremely well written, in-depth character study of someone who has turned into a vampire and how he has to fit this change into his life. And it’s that last part that makes this book so intriguing. Many stories I’ve read, the vampire runs away from their life and starts over. Often the vampire has means, so he only needs to deal with the cravings. But Henry’s case is different. He doesn’t have the financial means to just hole up in some dark mansion, sulking. He also doesn’t have any family to protect, having runaway from an abusive father years before. Nor does he need to worry about a significant other. He’s a lonely writer, who struggles to stay afloat with small, low paying jobs. Henry doesn’t―and really can’t—runaway from his old life.
As we go through the book, we see that Henry accepts his change (even enjoys it on occasion) and it is in fact his old life that is the true albatross around his neck. He still needs to pay the bills, his lifelong dreams of being a recognized author doesn’t go away and his loneliness is ever present. In many ways, this book reminded me of real life. I’ve known people who were forced to face devastating news (a dying family member, a cancer prognosis, etc) yet the problems of daily life (paying the bills, problems with the kids, problems at work) still remain center stage. Our life is inescapable, no matter what new problems force their way in, and I think this is the true message the author is trying to get across. And it is a disturbing message, too. Because, in the end, we’re all just as trapped as poor Henry.
This novel is a fascinating page-turner. The author’s writing style is comfortable, well crafted, clever, sometimes humorous, and gripping. I give this book five stars and cannot wait to see the author’s next work.