There’s an entire branch of publishing devoted to vampire love stories. And they’re all pretty much the same. There’s a waif-like stunner who, by sheer nature of her beauty and innocence, manages to attract a vampire-like hunk, driving him to inescapable levels of impassioned rapture. Let the bodice-ripping ensue! If you’re the type of readers who is into this sort of thing, then Karen Glista’s CHASING THE RED QUEEN will be right up your blood-lusty alley.
There is the requisite heroine, eighteen-year old Donja, a temptress with a penchant for goth makeup and teardrop tattoos. Then you’ve got the toothy hunk, Torin Mancini. But he’s not a vampire, per se. No, Torrin is an Iridescent, a vampire-like being who’s lived for hundreds of years. He has fangs, so there’s a check on that. But garlic and crosses and such have no effect on him. He has superhuman strength and abilities. And, instead of glittering skin like another vampire saga, Torrin possesses eyes that are powerful and, yes, iridescent. Donja, of course, is powerless beneath their gaze. There’s your standard vampire council getting in the way of things and vampire rules you’ve got to learn, but other than a few minor tweaks here and there, there’s really nothing new being brought to the vampire/love story story. You want a creepy old mansion? You got it. You want sexy vampire nightclub? Bingo.
Familiar tropes aside, CHASING THE RED QUEEN does have some serious momentum. While Donja and her stepsister Makayla do have some painfully banal conversations on their way to shopping excursions, spa days, and nights out with the undead, there’s something compelling about the way they interact with the vampires. There’s a precious (but not too precious) will-they-or-won’t-they quality to their relationships that, instead of boring readers to tears, will just as likely keep the pages turning. And the periphery characters—Donja’s mother and stepfather, Torrin’s right-hand man—are given full, complex interior lives that lift them above standard fiction pawn pieces to be moved around at the author’s will. As a new entry into the genre, RED QUEEN is a fine tale, if not literary royalty.
CHASING THE RED QUEEN may be a typical vampire love story, but its forward momentum and finely drawn characters (even the peripheral ones) make it a worthy addition to the genre.
~Steven Foster for IndieReader