Verdict: THE UNBELIEVER does break new ground within the seemingly played-out vampire/preternatural genre. As a story it is engrossing, amusing, and well-told. Readers who want a funny escapist fantasy centered around a warm, believable romance will enjoy this book.
After losing part of his leg during a mission in Iraq, Major Max Bradley of the United States Marine Corps decides to hole up in a house boat called the Prosthetic Limb and honorably painkiller away his remaining days. At least until he rescues a woman named Elena from two attackers during a heavy fog in the wee hours of the morning. She insists she doesn’t want to involve the police. After spending the night on Max’s houseboat, she reveals that she’s not only running from the undead: she, too, is a vampire. However, when she’s around Max, she’s somehow able to stand in the sunlight without bursting into flames. Turns out, Max has anti-magical powers: his complete lack of belief in supernatural elements renders all supernatural beings “ordinary” in his presence, which makes him an enormous threat to the evil undead, and an unexpected catalyst to Elena’s returning humanity and their blossoming romance.
Combining humor, the occasional exquisite turn of phrase (anesthesiologists are described as “bartenders in pajamas,” while the vampires within the book have “more teeth than head”) and emotionally resonant allegory, “The Unbeliever” is an entertaining read from opening battle sequence to satisfying epilogue. The mixture of fact and fantasy is expertly balanced, creating a work that engrosses both a reader’s pragmatic and romantic sides. The supernatural bond between Elena and Max is an inventive way to explore the sensation of falling in love. The cinematic set-pieces, from the first vampire slaughter to the chase sequences in a forest to a tight squeeze through airport security, are vivid and perfectly paced.
THE UNBELIEVER does break new ground within the seemingly played-out vampire/preternatural genre. As a story it is engrossing, amusing, and well-told. Readers who want a funny escapist fantasy centered around a warm, believable romance will enjoy this book.
Reviewed by Julia Lai for IndieReader