*This review will contain spoilers!*
First of all, I want to say a massive thank you to the author of this novel, Phronk, for sending me a free pdf of this novel in exchange for an honest review.
‘Stars and Other Monsters’ tells the story of Stan Lightfoot, a member of the paparazzi who is following David Letterman, trying to get a picture of the woman he’s rumoured to be sleeping with. Stan is about to get the money-making shot of David and his mistress when a car comes out of nowhere, crashing into Stan and mowing the celebrity and his lover down. The woman driving the car is adamant that David is okay, despite the fact that Stan saw his dead boy underneath the car, but because of the worry that the police could get involved Stan drives away from the scene of the accident, trying to put the incident far far behind him.
Fast forward a few days and the woman, called Dalla, turns up on Stan’s doorstep, claiming that she needs to sort out the insurance from the accident. They go to a cafe and have a lovely time together, and Stan decides he wants to make the moves on her and invites her back to his place, where she bites his throat and sucks his blood in the hallway.
Oh yes, this is a vampire novel. And not the young adult, romanticised version of a vampire story; ‘Stars and Other Monsters’ has more gore than I’ve experienced in any vampire novel that I’ve ever read. At some points this became a negative, because the imagery became sickening in its intensity, but the fact that Phronk could describe the vampire attacks and various other violence so expertly is commendable. I certainly couldn’t vocalise some of the events that he was describing.
Overall, I really enjoyed the novel, because it was nice to read something different about vampires – too many of the stories I’ve been experiencing recently have been compared to ‘Twilight’ which, while I enjoy that formula of vampire story, has started to get boring and predictable. I couldn’t really predict anything that was going on in this novel, which is always good when you’re great at seeing things coming, because it’s nice to be surprised by a book once in a while. I’m not going to go too deeply into the things that surprised me, because I don’t want to ruin the shocks for you, but just be warned that there are going to be things that don’t make sense throughout the entire length of the novel that gets wrapped up towards the end.
Also enjoyable was the fact that the characters it featured were real celebrities. Too often there are fictionalised versions of celebrities, meaning it’s difficult to get a grasp on exactly how famous they are, but by deciding to use David Letterman and Damien Fox as focal characters it was obvious straight away that they were massive stars, extremely famous and instantly recognisable.
Furthermore, the second story of Morgan running throughout the novel is also very well written. The jumps between Stan’s story and Morgan’s story were very well placed, leaving Stan on a cliffhanger that means you can’t help but speed through to see how he gets out of multiple tricky situations.
However, towards the climax of the novel, when Damien Fox develops powers after performing a ritual using his newborn child, it all got a little bit farfetched. There was no real explanation of why the ritual worked, but when Damien developed powers very similar to Dalla’s, I assumed he’d become a vampire too. Later, he was referred to as a ‘crazed celebrity wizard’ which completely threw me – if he had actually become a wizard it wasn’t explicitly explained, so the entire situation seemed a bit confusing and not very well mapped out. As well as the confusion towards the end of the novel, there were multiple errors throughout the novel, including Bloody, Stan’s fluffy companion, repeatedly being referred to as a male even though she was a female, and there were a couple of spelling mistakes, so that also detracted from my overall enjoyment of the novel.
Despite those issues, it was still a fun read, with the dark humour interspersed throughout being written extremely well, but I wouldn’t recommend this if you don’t enjoy reading descriptions of people being decapitated/sucked dry off all their blood/having their fingers bitten off, so make sure you have a solid stomach before you attempt this novel.