Staked is the debut novel from author J. F. Lewis, and it’s a very different vampire novel than what I have been reading. The story centers around Eric, a relatively young yet incredibly powerful vampire, who has some major problems with memory loss and anger management; blackouts are never a good thing! Eric isn’t a dark, brooding, sexy, romantic hero, this is a guy’s guy vampire; a vampire who owns a strip club. While I love the romantic hero vampires, it’s refreshing to see a vampire with an attitude problem.
Eric has what most guys would consider a dream job – running a strip club, with human girlfriends whenever he needs them. As a bonus, he has plenty of money, so he doesn’t need to worry about the success of his business. In Staked’s vampire world, vampires don’t need to kill when they feed, but sometimes it happens; since Void City is run by vamps, you’re just charged a fee for body removal. By running a strip club, Eric also has a large number of potential “donors” available every day. Even though he’s a “guy’s guy vampire”, Eric still reigned in the interest of this female reader, plus, part of Staked is told through the voice of Tabitha, Eric’s current girlfriend, so there’s more than one side to the story.
While Eric wants to just drink some blood and enjoy himself, he ends up with one problem after another. In Void City, there’s a grudge between vampires and werewolves, and when Eric gets into a fit of rage and kills a werewolf in self-defense, he ends up the target of every werewolf in the area. When Eric has to fight, it’s quickly made clear that he’s an uber-vamp, one who can keep bouncing back from anything and everything, killing any enemy in his path. Meanwhile, Eric’s got more problems than just his anger-management, he just “changed” Tabitha, and he’s not all that happy about it. His pre-vampire fiancée is still refusing to become a vampire or return to fiancée status, choosing to age alone, and there are all kinds of love triangles happening, some of which are pretty volatile. What will happen when Tabitha finds out Eric’s been sleeping with Rachel, her younger sister?
The characters in Staked are unique enough to grab my attention, even after innumerable hours reading vampire novels. Eric definitely fits into the “anti-hero” category, with major issues including rage-blackouts, relationship problems, and massive memory gaps. Tabitha is Eric’s current girlfriend/new vampire, and she is having a bit of buyer’s remorse; while she is in love with Eric, his assistant Talbot sure is hot… Eric’s friend Roger has known him as long as he’s been undead, but something feels a bit “off” about him. And, why on earth has Marilyn, who was Eric’s fiancée at the time of his death, stayed with him for 40 years, now managing the strip club? There are a lot of nooks and crannies in every character, stones that need to be overturned, though we might not always like what’s lurking underneath. Staked’s unique characters will pull you in, and since there’s an equally unique plot, you won’t be able to put it down.
Once you get caught up in the world of Staked, you’re stuck in its thrall. There’s enough violence and death to keep the novel going, but not so much that you can’t read it before bed. Staked walks a great balance with the suspense and gore, keeping the reader wanting to know the answer to the mysteries, but not completely grossed out; it’s a balance that one rarely sees in first novels. At the end of Staked, I couldn’t quite accept it was over, I needed just a few more pages! I’m hoping that the sequel, Revamped will be published relatively soon, I’m looking forward to more from Jeremy Lewis!
We definitely recommend Staked to men and women – it’s a great take on the vampire anti-hero! If you need a break from romantic vampire tales, pick this one up now.
This book was received from the publisher for review