RogerBW's Blog

Nightshades, Melissa F. Olson 04 October 2017

2016 modern fantasy novella, first in its series. There are vampires in the world; the FBI is hunting down the bad ones.

This feels like the pilot episode of a TV series. Here's the teaser with a bunch of expendable characters so that we can see how dangerous the threat is; here's the brilliant young FBI agent, son of the first female director, who's out to prove that he's good in his own right; here's the "good" vampire who's the co-lead (cop/not-a-cop yet again), and there are some of the rest of the ensemble cast. Meanwhile, over there is the villain of the week, and the figure behind her who'll escape to be the season's big bad, and the ending that sets up the next episode. It feels very much by-the-numbers, the sort of thing that usually emerges from TV production where multiple layers of executives and focus groups can sand away anything distinctive and produce a rounded-off pill for the audiences to swallow; it's a shame to see a solo author following this path.

Which is all rather a pity, because apart from those problems the book is well written and a pleasure to read; the characters do their best to escape from the clich├ęs they've had assigned to them, and occasionally succeed. I wish Olson would do the same.

I can't really recommend this yet, but if the story goes somewhere a bit more interesting in future volumes then it may pull together. To be followed by Switchback.

[Buy this at Amazon] and help support the blog.

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