Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Children’s Books: The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

Catherine Jinks is one of the most versatile writers I know of. Historical fiction, SF, fantasy, thriller, ghost stories, children’s, YA, adult -- there are very genres she hasn’t set her pen to at one time or another.

In The Reformed Vampire Support Group, she visits the vampire story, although I suspect this is not the kind of novel that would be relished by all the girls at my school who are devouring the Twilight series. If anything, this sends up the vampire tale.

Catherine Jinks asks her readers to think -- really think -- about what being a vampire might involve, especially in modern Sydney. You can’t eat anything you used to enjoy. You’re unlikely to be able to drive, unless you got your licence before you were turned. If you were elderly, like Bridget, a former nun who was turned at the age of 80, you’ll have arthritis and other aches and pains involved with being elderly forever. You still have to make a living, but you can’t do a normal job. Not if you turned in 1908, anyway. Nina, the narrator, who died in the 1970s, writes adventure novels with a feisty vampire heroine. But Nina was turned at 15, which means she will be a teenager forever, with all the problems this involves.

These vampires don’t live in crypts, though they do have weekly group therapy sessions at the local Catholic church. This means they have to find homes with blackout facilities. And they have nothing to do all night but watch dull television shows.

Fortunately one of them has discovered a way to avoid fanging humans, which they really don’t want to do, as biting humans always turns them and the last thing they need is a planetful of vampires.

But someone has killed a vampire. They have to find out who it is and persuade them not to do it again. Trouble is, there’s more to it than vampire killers.

The Reformed Vampire Support Group has a lot of fun with the vampire genre, especially right now when everyone and his dog is publishing it. All I can say is that the authors of the Deadly Serious vampire tales deserve everything they get in this deliciously funny novel.

Catherine Jinks triumphs again!

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