“Jody never asked to become a vampire. But when she wakes up under an alley dumpster with a badly burned arm, an aching back, superhuman strength, and a distinctly Nosferatuan thirst, she realizes the decision has been made for her.
Making the transition from the nine-to-five grind to an eternity of nocturnal prowlings is going to take some doing, however, and that’s where C. Thomas Flood fits in. A would-be Kerouac from Incontinence, Indiana, Tommy (to his friends) is biding his time night-clerking and frozen-turkey bowling in a San Francisco Safeway. But all that changes when a beautiful undead redhead walks through the door…and proceeds to rock Tommy’s life — and afterlife — in ways he never thought possible.”
Thoughts: Christopher Moore’s Bloodsucking Fiends is a rollicking novel that happens to have a vampire as the main character. Its subtitle is “A Love Story”, and this is more accurate a description than lumping it in the vampire oeuvre. While there are quite a few pages devoted to Jody’s vampiric self-education, and the Big Baddie just happens to be her sire, the rest of the story follows Jody’s overall growth into a self-sufficient woman and her burgeoning relationship with the very sweet Tommy.
In fact, the vampires in Bloodsucking Fiends provide more humor than horror. If one were to take away the vampiric elements, the heart of the story remains the same but the humor disappears. Jody is fairly squeamish for someone who exists by drinking blood, and one cannot be accused of murder without the “dead” body of his girlfriend found stuffed into a freezer.
In Bloodsucking Fiends, Mr. Moore satirizes more than just vampire stories. Stylistically unique, his satire of romance novels is strangely reminiscent of Jane Austen and her skewering of society and popular culture during the Victorian era. Both Austen and now Mr. Moore highlight just how trivial popular culture can be.
Susan Bennett does an admirable job narrating Bloodsucking Fiends. With only one female character and at least ten male characters, a female narrator could have been disastrous. Any doubts about a female narrator are foundless, as Ms. Bennett proves more than capable of embodying Jody, Tommy, the Emperor, and the rest of the cast. She switches back and forth between Jody and the various male characters with aplomb and manages to make each character unique and distinctive without straining her voice or the reader’s credulity. Also, she balances the correct amount of snark and worry that permeates Jody, as well as Tommy’s earnestness, throughout the novel. The entire story sparks under Ms. Bennett’s performance.
Leave it to Mr. Moore to make vampires fun again. As a fledgling vampire, Jody is by turns absolutely hilarious in her naivete and extremely vulnerable. Tommy never loses his endearingly sweet Midwestern earnestness, and the Animals provide a much-needed comedic counterpoint to that goodness. Together, theirs truly is a love story. Decidedly silly, Bloodsucking Fiends is immensely satisfying.
Acknowledgments: Mine. All mine.