Book Review: Dark Dates

Dark DatesTracey contacted me via this blog to request a review and her blurb so captured my attention I had to check out her blog. When I saw the whole “Body of a Geek Goddess” moniker, I had to interview her, too. Of course, now it’s been a few weeks and I’ve been dawdling about actually posting the review I promised, having received a PDF copy of the book from the author.

First, the blurb that caught my eye:

All Cassandra Bick wants is to be left to get on with doing her job. But when you’re a Sensitive whose business is running a dating agency for vampires, life is never going to be straightforward – especially when there’s a supernatural war brewing in London, a sexy new bloodsucker in town and your mysterious, homicidal and vampire hating ex-lover chooses this moment to reappear in your life…

Witty, sharp and entertaining, Dark Dates is a heady mix of vampires, witches and werewolves – with the occasional angel thrown in – and introduces Cassandra Bick, a likeable heroine destined to join the ranks of fantasy’s feistiest females.

Who’s ever read about a dating agency targeting the vampire niche? Certainly not I. In general, in the paranormal genre, I’m more inclined toward Team Furry–something about sucking blood just sounds gross to me, and I don’t really understand how the whole cold, dead thing is a turn-on. But then, neither does the protagonist of this book. She has found a niche that helps her cater to specific clientele to drive a successful business: “Because the problem with vampires is they were once people, and now in many ways they are just older people. So they’re just like other, ordinary people: often stupid, or boring, or self-obsessed. … Come on, looks, charm and brains were a rare enough combination in the past as they are now, so why assume all vampires possess all three? … For anyone turned before the 1950s, the whole 21st century has come as a bit of a shock.”

The real fun of the story is the random inclusion of pop-culture references, sprinkled throughout the story like Easter Eggs:

I cater for all sorts, but my vampire nights are the most successful, especially in these Twilight-True Blood days when everyone wants their own bloodsucker, whether for everlasting romance or just hot sweaty sex. So, my most recent party, a couple of weeks ago, wasn’t unusual in being a sell out event. There was the standard crowd of humans; an eclectic and carefully chosen bunch, even if they did tend to wear a disproportionate amount of black. It was a mixture of regulars and newbies, the curious and the sceptical, the one-time-for-a-thrill and the full-on blood groupies. Some vampires like someone who knows what they’re doing, some like a novice, and I don’t feel it’s my job to judge either side of the equation. I’ve organised full-on fetish nights before and trust me, the things that humans in rubber can do to one another makes most supernatural interaction seem positively pale in comparison.

The story is written in a light, conversational style and is driven by a string of murders carried out in London. There are a few spots where the time looping in her story-telling makes the story seem a bit repetitive, but not enough to put it down or get frustrated. The meat of the story is the mystery of why it seems Cass’s business and her clients are being targeted. The interesting motif about what constitutes Other and the debate on the relative goodness/morality of both humans and Others isn’t something you see all that often, and Sinclair handles it with the same realism with which she paints the city the story is set in. She even has her heroine pursue a different course than is standard. (And I’ll leave it at that crypticism, to avoid more of a spoiler.)

I’m happy to recommend this book to any fan of the paranormal. For those who like mystery or romance, this has something for you too. It’s a good summer read–especially this summer, as London is in the world spotlight for the Olympics and Sinclair’s vision of the city paints an additional layer on an already-storied city.

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