Nice Girls Don't Have Fangs by Molly Harper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Jane Jameson is not cool enough to be turned into a vampire, and that, above everything else, is what drew me into this book. I mean, think about it: Most literary female vampires seemed to be born to be vampires. They're tall, ravishing, regal, menacing, and too cool for school. They seem torn from the S&M column of Cosmopolitan, they're so unreal. What chance would any real mortal woman--with her neuroses, innate insecurity, and native smells--have?
Enter Jane Jameson. She is not a Cosmo model. Sure, she's tall, but she's also romantically cursed, plain, saddled with a typically troubled and overbearing Southern family, and--gasp!--a librarian. This is not a typical vampire genesis.
Furthermore, the day she died sounds like the script for a movie that might star that Zooey Deschanel or a slightly younger Sandra Bullock: She's fired from her librarian gig. Her severance package is a gift certificate to the local bar-and-eatery. She proceeds to blow through her severance, getting drunk, embarrassing herself, and befriending a tall, dark, and mysterious stranger. She heads home. Her car punks out on her. She stumbles into a ditch -- and is mistaken for a deer and shot by the town drunk (and sometime hunter).
I have to again point out that this is not how vampires happen. Usually there's a lot of angst, sure, but there's always a candlelit crypt, somber dialog about life eternal, and then, the bite. When she rises, Jane doesn't even remember the bite, at first. She only knows she's in a stranger's house, and she's clinging to the ceiling, startled at being anywhere but home.
Oh, and another departure from the norm? I've never before read a new-vampire story that was so damned funny. Jane doesn't take herself seriously. How can she? She was born into a family that's so damaged it deserves a sitcom. Yes, she's undead, but she still has to put up with her too-perfect sister and her wheedling mother and being unemployed. The only noticeable departure from her regular life is that she can't eat solid foods, she has to undergo rigorous preparations to survive in sunlight, she has to eliminate silver from her jewelry collection, and she has super-strength and remarkable healing powers. Those powers, by the way, are going to help her when she realizes she's inadvertently made a very crazy enemy.
I know, there are a lot of parallels between Jane Jameson's world and that of the famous vampire-bait waitress, Sookie Stackhouse. They're both Southern. They both have attracted the attentions of tall, dark, and handsome antebellum vampires. They both have elderly female relatives who have bequeathed them houses full of tradition. They both collect around them a ragtag collection of misfits as friends, including werewolves. The state of the world as they know it includes "outed" vampires drinking faux blood. And they both have become unlikely romantic leads, the antitheses of vampire chic.
Having said that, though, I have to say this: Molly Harper does it better than Charlaine Harris. Period. Why? Because Jane Jameson is us as we want to be: just as strange and awkward, but funny, and still able to get the total hottie by just being ourselves. Oh, and yes, she agreed to become a vampire. Because, honestly, which among you would turn down the offer? Sookie is dumb for holding out. Points to Jane for not being so damn dumb.
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