Sunday, 24 February 2013

Walking Shadows by Narrelle M Harris

Walking Shadows by Narrelle M Harris is actually the second novel featuring these characters, something I didn't realise until after I'd bought it. However, I can happily report that reading it without reading the prequel first in no way affected by enjoyment of it.

Lissa is a Melbournian librarian whose best friend, Gary, is a dorky vampire. Shenanigans ensue when the vampires of Melbourne start being killed in dramatically permanent ways. Lissa, concerned for Gary, can't help but stick her nose into matters to protect him.

I really loved this book. I was expecting to enjoy it after having read Harris' Showtime collection, in which the titular story featured Lissa and Gary, and it surpassed my expectations. Walking Shadows was full of amusing narration (in first person) and entertaining exchanges between Lissa and the  people in her life. I laughed out loud many times (and silently a few times when I was reading during a bout of insomnia and didn't want to wake up the husband). The fact that it was set in Melbourne didn't hurt, either.

I liked the vampire mythos Harris has used. In this world, vampires don't have to drink blood to survive, but they get a buzz if they do; the human blood moving through their system makes them feel a bit more alive and helps them think. Most of the time, they have difficulty with new concepts (hence living in the past) and can't think creatively. In short, they're less smart than humans and one of the reasons they might keep humans around is to help them with the thinking their less active synapses have trouble with. (Of course, that also means some of them are stuck in a killing for fun rut...)

Taken at face value, the main plot isn't the most surprising aspect of the book. However, Harris includes many layers to Lissa's life, beyond the vampiric associations. Despite the life-threatening situations, she continues to care about her job, sister, friends and pet dog. I liked that she retained a sense of perspective and cared that she was making people worry about her (unlike some main characters I won't mention).

I am definitely going to read the first Lissa and Gary book, The Opposite of Life, some time soon. It has moved dramatically up my "to buy" list. (I hope I can get it off Book.ish — does anyone know if their geo-restrictions care about IP addresses or only about credit cards? Rest assured you'll see me ranting on Twitter if I can't.)

Walking Shadows was an excellent read and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for highly entertaining urban fantasy. I'm tempted to say it's a light read, but that's not really true as it tackles some serious issues albeit without taking itself to seriously. I loved the characters and I particularly recommend it to people looking for somewhat non-standard vampires in an Australian setting.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: June 2012, Clan Destine Press
Series: Yes. The second book about Gary and Lissa
Format read: ePub on my iThings
Source: Purchased from publisher's store
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge

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