Let's face it, with a title like The Newfoundland Vampire and a cover like the one to the left, your expectations are pretty well established before you even turn to the first page. I mean, really, nobody goes into a vampire novel like this expecting the Gothic melodrama of Anne Rice or the supernatural terror of Brian Lumley. Instead, invited in by the author, we enter of our own free will, looking for a little fun and entertainment . . . something that Charles O'Keefe certainly provides.
Fortunately, as much as it reminded me of 80s cinematic camp, the story manages to fall on the right side of Nicholas Cage ironic, self-aware humour, à la Vampire's Kiss, rather than full-on Jim Carrey mindless parody, à la Once Bitten. It has a nostalgic feel to it (which probably dates me a bit), but also managed to surprise me often enough to keep me truly entertained.
The Newfoundland Vampire is the story of Joseph O'Reilly, just another average, ordinary, all-around nice guy (and geek), who isn't about to ditch the best looking woman to ever cross his path just because she happens to like the taste of blood - even if her ex-husband is a sadistic killer, out for revenge. Before you scoff, figuring you've heard that tale before, take note of the fact that Joseph is (or, at least, was) a vegetarian, putting a unique spin on both his reluctant vampirism and his emerging heroic sensibilities.
In terms of characters, Joseph really carries the novel, and does it well. He's a realistic, self-effacing young man to whom anyone can easily relate. O'Keefe wisely keeps him balanced, making him a geeky young man, but never a parody of that subculture. More than that, he allows Joseph to retain his humanity, questioning who and what he has become, and looking for ways to not just deal with the hand fate has dealt him, but seize the opportunity to make the most of it. Similarly, while O'Keefe doesn't necessarily add anything substantial to the vampire mythos, I liked the way he approached it, especially with the logical little extrapolations of how and why they hunger the way they do.
If I were to have one complaint, it's that O'Keefe tries to do too many genres at once, merging romance, action, and humour, often a little awkwardly. There's definitely a Buffy/Angel influence here, albeit one that's gender-swapped and turned on its head, but it feels as if the greatest potential has yet to be realized. Despite that, it's a fun read, and one that shows great promise.Originally reviewed at Beauty in Ruins