Iron Night by M. L. Brennan
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Underachieving film theory graduate and vampire Fortitude Scott may be waiting tables at a snooty restaurant run by a tyrannical chef who hates him, but the other parts of his life finally seem to be stabilizing. He’s learning how to rule the Scott family territory, hanging out more with his shapeshifting friend Suzume Hollis, and has actually found a decent roommate for once.
Until he finds his roommate’s dead body.
The Scott family cover-up machine swings into gear, but Fort is the only person trying to figure out who (or what) actually killed his friend. His hunt for a murderer leads to a creature that scares even his sociopathic family, and puts them all in deadly peril.
Keeping secrets, killing monsters, and still having to make it to work on time? Sometimes being a vampire really sucks.”
This is one of those books that really keep the urban fantasy genre alive. The vampire mythos is unique and doesn’t wander into the tired old tropes that so many novels use. There’s less about that aspect of vampires in Iron Night, but it does come into play a little bit concerning Fort’s long-delayed transformation. It also plays out subtly not only in his sister’s inbred bloodlust, but also in the compassion his brother has for his dying wife.
Speaking of Fort and his new powers, this book takes place several months after the first in the series, and Fort is dealing with the effects of his vampiric side coming more to the fore. It’s something that he’s not quite used to, and he’s not sure if he likes it. It’s good for us readers, though, because it means that Fort spends more time working with his family instead of avoiding them, and I find those characters fascinating. I think that a lot of Brennan’s strength lies in creating these characters that are fully fleshed out and easy to get involved with.
By far the best of the secondary characters is Suzume. While Japanese fox-shifters aren’t that uncommon in fantasy literature, they’re just rare enough to be refreshing when they do turn up. And Suzume is just plain fun to read. She has a fox’s traditional sense of mischief and loves to play pranks on Fort, but she’s quite fearsome when need be. The budding relationship between her and Fort feels a little more natural than some that I’ve seen in the genre, so although I sometimes roll my eyes at the “obligatory romance”, I kind of liked this one.
The author walks the fine line between humor and seriousness with great skill. There are plenty of funny moments—many of them revolving around Suzume—that got a chuckle out of me, and lots of clever turns of phrase. And while the humor is definitely dominant, Brennan does a great job at playing out the tension as Fort tries to keep his dad’s former partner from seeing something that will get him killed.
This novel is so fun to read that I had trouble putting it down. It has lots of humor, good characters, a solid plot and just enough deep character interaction to give the tale some teeth. Iron Night is better than its predecessor, and since the first book was really good, that should tell you how much I liked this one.
Also by this author: Generation V