Disclaimer: A review copy was provided by Netgalley and the publisher in exchange for an honest review. No other remuneration was received.
Book Title:GUN TO MY HEAD
Author: Dira Lewis
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Category: Paranormal Romance/LGBTQIA (m/m)
Main Characters: Sin/Dominic
Find It: Amazon
Source: ARC provided by NetGalley, ebook format
3.5 Batty Moons!
Sin is a vampire at the end of his rope. Having escaped forcible conversion by a vampire cult, he temporarily kills himself and rises again only to immediately imprint on a human: eighteen-year-old Dominic.
Thanks to the cult’s conditioning, Sin can’t bite Dominic, but because of the imprint he also can’t leave him alone. Protecting Dominic from a local vampire named Oriana puts Sin between a rock and a hard place.
With nowhere else to turn he does his best to convince Dominic to like him—but finds himself becoming just as attached to Dominic, which definitely isn’t making his life any easier.
Note: Gun to My Head is 101,000 words in length and contains some explicit content, heavily features themes of dubious consent (in sexual and non-sexual contexts) and violence, and includes a scene depicting a (temporary) suicide. Additionally, this story contains reference to non-consexual sex and violence and ableist language.
READ ON FOR MY REVIEW!
Anyone who reads my blog on a regular basis–or my writing, for that matter–knows that I loves me some vampires. If it stars fanged creatures, nightmarish or sexy, I’m there. I even read non-fiction about all kinds of immortal-related topics, especially books a lot of people would consider painfully dry and boring about vampire lore’s effects and reflection of society, literature, etc.
See? You’re bored already.
So I read pretty much anything about vampires that don’t sparkle. I don’t even care that a lot of it is derivative, and some of it is even bad. Okay, I do care, but I’ll still read it. However, it’s not very often that a truly unique vampire story comes along. GUN TO MY HEAD isn’t the best vampire book I’ve read in recent years, but it’s probably one of the most interesting and different. I was enthralled…sort of like the book was a vampire that mesmerized me. In a really entertaining way that luckily didn’t involve my grisly death or transformation into a creature who has to play mind games with cats to survive(I only do that for fun. Ask my cat.). And then strike up a weird friendship with them after.
Read the book, that’ll make more sense.
I read GUN TO MY HEAD in two big no-sleep chunks. Some of the vampire mythos in the book was based on “classic” legends: aversion to running water, sunlight, holy water, even saying “blessed” words like Jesus or God, etc. The structure of the vampire world was interesting: there are factions that work in clear opposition to one another. One group, called the Antonines (I swear to Dracula, for the first 1/3 of the book, I thought it was “The Antoines,” and I kept picturing like, really effeminate triplet vampires who would blow dry you to death. Then I figured it out, and I was like, “OH! Okay, that makes more sense.”), and a more classic vampire society, which is based on bloodlines. The original maker of the group is its leader, and in GUN TO MY HEAD, the leads, Sin and Dominic, seriously get on the bad side of the local queen.
The powers and weaknesses of this mythology’s vampires is a lot of what makes this book so interesting. Some of them are amoral, some downright evil. They have super speed, strength, and senses when well-fed. They’re more or less immortal, but the less is pretty hardcore. We get to see its more gruesome side. They have the power to be able to sense movement, heat, and blood, even use their extremely creepy presence to figure out whether a comatose person still has a consciousness somewhere deep inside. Of course, if they don’t “glamour” over their true visage, they scare the crap out of people all around them, even those that can’t necessarily see them.
Sin, the vampire, is a lone vamp whose maker and family were slaughtered by the ANTONINES (not Antoines), and he has been tortured by them for so long that he doesn’t know what an iPhone is. He manages to adjust pretty quickly, and the relationship he accidentally forms with the young human Dominic (the barely legal Dominic) gets more twisted and complicated as the story goes on. It very much ends up being Sin and Dominic against the world in the weirdest “totally-not-love” story ever told. Sin might have escaped the Vampire Hairdressers’ Guild (NOT a thing! I made that up.), but he has some serious vampire PTSD. He can’t bite humans, basically.
The book takes a really different tack on vampires, and the voice is also like nothing I’ve run into before. Sin’s point of view is seriously bizarre, but that makes for an interesting story. He’s not terribly sympathetic. He does heroic things strictly because he has no choice, or because they’re in his own best interest. He’s a fairly good example of an anti-hero, actually.
The creep factor is high in GUN TO MY HEAD–the dubious consent issues in many interactions (mentioned in the disclaimer above), the bizarre relationship between teenage innocent (comparatively) Dominic and the damaged vampire Sin, the various kinds of violations Sin takes part in to assure continued survival, and the kinds of magic vampires use to make themselves either better predators or better able to defend themselves really made my skin crawl. In the best warped vampire fan kind of way! I’m really glad I decided to read it.
Final note: At first, I was so confused about the cover. I mean, a handgun and a pink water pistol? WTFF? That’s another neat little Easter egg here. It’s actually a central symbol of the events of the book.
Great entertainment. Truly different. Definitely worth a read. I give GUN TO MY HEAD:
3.5 FASCINATED BATTY MOONS!