Vampire Bablyon is the start of a new vampire hunting series featuring a female stunt expert, Dawn Madison. The story is fast paced and filled with enough gory fight scenes to please the hard core urban fantasy reader but with a surprisingly emotional layer that may appeal to the female reader. It fails to deliver a complete world building construct and this coupled with the tendency to leave more plot threads open than resolved left this reader dissatisfied.
Dawn is between stunt jobs when she finds out her father, Frank, is missing. She heads to LA and the PI firm of Limpet & Associates to find him. Assisted by a psycho midget, Kiko Daniels, and a gorgeous Hispanic tech guru, Briesi, Dawn begins to the hunt for Frank. Dawn learns that there is a complete otherworld filled with psychics, vampires and the VOICE, who runs the show at the PI firm. Dawn must help to find her father; solve the mystery of a re-appearing child star that disappeared 12 years ago but has suddenly reappeared; resolve personal issues with her dead mother; fight vampires; discover who is behind the hiring of a second PI guy; figure out who the VOICE is; and save the world. Sound like a lot for one book? It is.
There were two major problems that hindered me from really falling into the story. The first is that because the story started so far into the action, I spent the first 8 chapters wondering whether this was an urban fantasy where everyone knew that there were otherworldly creatures aka an Anita Blake series or whether this a world construct where fantasy creatures were hidden ala Emma Bull’s War for the Oaks. I am pretty sure it is the latter, but Dawn never once questions the existence of psychics and other “out of the ordinary” occurrences.
The world building, while interesting, is frustratingly incomplete. There was no answer as to why one vampire was able to resist the compulsion of the Master when no one else had. There was no explanation as to where the good souls went. I.e., there was no real balance between the evil that the vampires represented, if they were truly evil, and a good. Perhaps its my own prejudices showing here, but can there be evil with no countervailing good? How else is evil measured? Isn’t simply normal then? Or a different shade of normal? Further, there didn’t seem to be any “punishment” for turning evil. Also incomplete were the conclusion of the many plot threads introduce. In fact, only one was brought to a close.
Because this is a romance reader blog, I feel compelled to comment that while the series may hold a promise of some romance later on with some character, there is no real romance in this book. I did not mind this. It was highly sexual and I wondered if the trend toward eroticization (is that a word) in romance is extending into other genres.
What kept me reading was that Dawn was an interesting character. She is an acute observer and her descriptions of her world were detailed and rich. She is conflicted with feelings of anger and remorse over a poor relationship with her father; and her identity and self-esteem issues that arise from being the daughter of a dead Hollywood icon. In the end, I was intrigued about the next book because Dawn is an appealing narrator. I do want to find her peace and am willing to read at least one more book to find out more about her journey. C+