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Dying Bites Cover Picture

Dying Bites

DD Barant

Published 2009            304 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

Her job description is “the tracking and apprehension of mentally fractured killers.” What this really means in FBI profiler Jace Valchek’s brave new world – one in which only one percent of the population is human – is that a woman’s work is never done. And is getting stranger every day.

Jace has been ripped from her reality by David Cassius, the vampire head of the NSA. He knows that she's the best there in the business, and David needs her help in solving a series of gruesome murders of vampires and werewolves. David's world – one that also includes lycanthropes and golems - is one with little knowledge of mental illness. An insane serial killer is a threat the NSA has no experience with. But Jace does. Stranded in a reality where Bela Lugosi is a bigger box office draw than Bruce Willis and every full moon is Mardi Gras, Jace must now hunt down a fellow human before he brings the entire planet to the brink of madness. Or she may never see her own world again…

The Review

Dying Bites is the first novel by DD Barant in The Bloodhound Files urban fantasy series, which follows the adventures of series protagonist Jace Valchek. Jace is a FBI profiler who is pulled from her reality to an alternative reality world populated by vampires, lycanthropes and golems. The book’s author DD Barant is the pseudonym for Don DeBrandt – a writer of sci-fi and CSI: Miami TV tie-ins.

If ever there was a book I was predisposed to like Dying Bites would be it. A book set in a world populated almost entirely by vampires and lycanthropes – what’s not to like? Oh, how wrong could I be? I was thinking Daybreakers, I was thinking I Am Legend. I was sadly disappointed…

As an experienced fantasy, sci-fi and horror reader, it’s fair to say that I have a huge ability to suspend my disbelief. In fact, if belief suspension was an Olympic sport I’d probably play for England – so great is my ability to easily slip away into the fantasy worlds of books. Like the Queen in Alice In Wonderland I have sometimes believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast but Dying Bites just went a step too far in thrusting impossible things upon me. The opening pages see protagonist Jace pulled from her reality (which is presumably the same as our world) and dragged into Supernatural world. She takes the news well and is very accepting that she now has to work for the vampire in charge of the NSA in this new world. I think a more realistic reaction might have been for her to think she was having a psychotic break, or had been drugged, or anything… other than her easy acceptance.

I don’t have a problem with believing in alternate universes or realities. I was a fan of the Sliders TV show and I can accept the possibility of other worlds similar yet subtly different to our own, this is a familiar concept to me.  What I can’t get my head around is the half-assed explanations and fantasy world building in Dying Bites. The ill-defined explanation of a magic spell creating a doorway between the worlds somehow just doesn’t work for me as well as some pseudo sci-fi babble about parallel universes, quantum physics and multiple realities. Either way I feel that the author could have tried harder with the explanations rather than just leaving readers to fail to imagine the details.

The Dying Bites world is an inconsistent mixture of ideas. On the one hand music isn’t the same as our world because it’s derived from human culture (which they don’t have) but films (Casablanca, Arsenic and Old Lace for example) are the same along with religion, fashion and food. Wouldn’t they be human culture too?

Even if I could buy into the fantasy of Supernatural world the book has another stumbling block. The characters are all annoying, ridiculous or just plain unlikeable. Jace suffers from some of the worse excesses of Urban Fantasy Female Protagonist syndrome (UFFP) she races over the fine line between empowered female and unlikeable arrogant twit with ease. Her actions and reactions just aren’t believable. During the course of the book she discovers that her ancient vampire boss was one of the architects of the human holocaust (that world’s equivalent of our WWII holocaust) 6 million humans were burned alive as a result of that holocaust but this information doesn’t change her working or personal relationship with him. Unbelievable.

In the interests of producing a balanced review I wish to point out that Dying Bites does a couple of redeeming features. While the world building and majority of characters fail, the writing style of the author makes the book an easy read. Even as I was gnashing my teeth at the story’s many inconsistencies I was still engaged enough to quickly finish the novel. There was also one character that stood out as more fascinating than all the rest – Charlie the security operative golem. Charlie’s character is full of mystery, quick wit and sharp edges – he’s one character that I’d be interested in hearing more from.

However, when the best character in a book is essentially an animated bag of sand you know that there is something wrong. The gargantuan weight of Dying Bite’s problems is more than even the strongest golem can be expected to carry…

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 2 stars out of 5

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