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Vampire State of Mind by Jane Lovering

Personally I blame Sarah Tranter. Having managed several decades (never mind how many!) without having the slightest interest in vampires, and having sat through the first two Twilight films, at the insistence of my daughter, with eyes glazed over with boredom, I picked up her novel “No Such Thing As Immortality” and loved it. Totally fell in love with her vampire hero, Nate, so much so that I actually watched Twilight Eclipse the other week and didn’t fall asleep – although I still think those films are curiously lacking in passion. (Can’t comment on the books as I haven’t read them). Anyway, with Sarah busy working on her sequel, I decided I needed another vampire fix, and fast. And who has written a vampire novel but the writer of one of my favourite books, “Please Don’t Stop The Music”. Yes, Jane Lovering had turned her very capable hand to vampire fiction and so, of course, it was the obvious choice.

Well, it turns out “Vampire State of Mind” is actually better than “Please Don’t Stop the Music”, and, believe me, I wasn’t expecting that. The heroine, Jessica, lives in an alternative York, where a rift has opened and allowed all sorts of otherworldly creatures in, such as werewolves, ghouls, zombies, shadows and, of course, vampires. Jess works for York City Council, and her job is to make sure that the otherworlders keep to the rules. After a terrible war with humans, a peace treaty was drawn up and the humans and otherworlders now live in relative peace, although neither side really trusts the other and there is a lot of prejudice on both sides.

Jess is a great heroine. She has humour, courage and compassion. Her relationship with her sidekick Liam is warm and trusting, with a great deal of gentle mickey-taking on both sides. Jess’s one weakness is her feelings for the leader of the city’s vampires, Sil, a sexy vampire with an inner demon. No, literally. You see, vampires in Jane Lovering’s world, are humans that have been bitten by other vampires and “seeded” so that a demon grows inside them and lives within them. It is that demon that keeps them alive, craves human blood, and drives the vampire to indulge in rather unsavoury pursuits as it needs the adrenaline rush this produces. Luckily, a form of synthetic blood has been developed which can be bought freely and which staves off the need to drain humans, although certain clubs exist where willing humans can “donate” blood to eager vampires. As long as the blood is freely given no crime has been committed, and the vampire is able to withdraw before “seeding” takes place if the human doesn’t wish to become a vampire, too. Sil frequents these clubs and is never short of company at them, something which fills Jess with disgust.

As with all ChocLit book we also get to see things from the hero’s perspective, and it soon becomes clear that Sil is not the unemotional monster that Jess believes him to be. But Sil is determined to keep his feelings at bay, and Jess can’t risk getting involved with a vampire who she believes will never love her, and never be satisfied with her.

When a stranger called Malfaire arrives in York, seeking out Jess, it triggers a series of events which leads to Jess and Sil having to work closely together. Jess, who sees herself as nothing more than a council worker doing her very poorly-paid and rather undervalued job, is shocked to discover her life is in danger. Someone wants her dead, but who? And why? The danger is growing, the uneasy truce is threatened, and both Jess and Sil have to come to terms with who they really are. “The stakes are high and very, very pointy”!

Told with a lot of humour, this book neverthless has a very dark edge to it, and there is some really passionate romance in there, too. The mystery of Malfaire is intriguing, and the mistrust and prejudice displayed by both humans and otherworlders is thought-provoking.
This novel is gripping, exciting, passionate and funny. It’s a bit Harry Potter, a bit Buffy, but most of all it reminded me of the first two series of Torchwood. I absolutely loved it and can’t wait to read Jane’s next novel, Hubble Bubble. Hmm, wonder what that could be about? 5/5

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