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Review – Bill the Vampire by Rick Gualtieri

What is Bill the Vampire?

THERE ARE REASONS WE FEAR THE NIGHT. HE’S NOT ONE OF THEM.

Dateless dork Bill Ryder never suspected it would take death to make his life a hell of a lot more interesting, but then he met a girl to die for – so he did.

Now he’s a vampire, surrounded by creatures stronger, deadlier, and much cooler than he is. They’re giving him just ninety days to prove he has what it takes to be an apex predator of the night, assuming he doesn’t give them a reason to dust his ass sooner.

Bill isn’t exactly average, though. A vamp like him hasn’t been seen in centuries. He’s got a few tricks up his sleeve, unexpected allies, and an attitude that makes him too obnoxious to quit. Good thing, too, because he’ll need all the help he can get if he doesn’t want to end up even deader than last time.

Join him in this hilarious tale of bloodthirsty monsters, gory mishaps, and an unlikely hero who, fangs or not, is still at the bottom of the food chain.

Review

BILL THE VAMPIRE is a laugh riot from beginning to end. As someone who has made the majority of his bones in genre blending comedy, I have to give this my ringing endorsement. If that isn’t enough of an opener, I’ll just say that Bill the Vampire is a irreverent, rude, crass, and hilarious urban fantasy adventure that has a surprisingly good amount of world-building. As a long time gamer and Vampire: The Masquerade fan, this scratches the itch of wondering, “What would it be like if an enormous nerd instead of suave pretty boy was transformed into a creature of the night?”

Bill Ryder is just one of a bunch of cannon fodder recruited by a minor vampire lord with pretensions of being a Goth edgelord. However, unlike the majority of vampires, Bill is a “Free Will” that is immune to dominating powers of a master vampire. This would be the start of a Chosen One arc if not for the fact that this does nothing to make Bill respected, liked, or stronger. Instead, it just puts him in an even worse position because the vampire lord can’t control hm and that makes him a threat. Bill only survives the night because an even older vampire, Ozymandias AKA James, finds it all amusing.

Bill is a great protagonist and is the head of a group of fellow gamers that get drawn into his life as a supernatural creature of the night. Bill is pretty damn nerdy but it’s hilarious that he’s actually, probably, the most socialized of his peer group. Given how big of an asshole Bill is, and Bill is an asshole, it’s perfect set up for a guy who really doesn’t know when to keep his mouth shut as well as lacks any suave qualities.

Part of what I like about the book is everyone is terrible at being a vampire. The main villain, Jeff, goes by Night Razor and is trying to live the life of a sexy creature of the night. However, everyone in his group that isn’t mind controlled (and a couple who are) find the whole thing ridiculous. It reminds me of the “Sexy Vampires” skit from Key and Peele. Speaking as a huge fan of Gothic Punk from the Nineties as well as Dungeons and Dragons geekery, it is a delightful contrast.

The best character in the book, though, is undoubtedly, Sally Sunset. Not quite old enough to be the master of the vampires and stuck with gathering recruits like Bill, she’s utterly over all of this. Sally and Bill play off one another tremendously well and are the book’s primary source of comedy. Really, Sally deserves a better sort of vampire to be surrounded by and she knows it.

In conclusion, this is a great indie urban fantasy book and if you like vampires then you will enjoy this. If you hate vampires, you will also enjoy this as it takes the piss out of a lot of genre conventions. The humor is often quite black and that’s part of what makes it effective. Bill isn’t always likable and certainly isn’t a hero but that’s why the story works. We’ve all known Bill and quite a few of us have been Bill. Bill is also how most of us would take to being a vampire: terribly.

Available here

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