Xan Marcelles is your typical small-time bassist: he can drink his weight in whiskey, smokes a pack a day on a slow day, and uses his giant height and long, dark hair to get the ladies right where he wants them. He won’t buy you roses, and he can’t afford a fancy dinner, but he’ll respect you for as long (or little) as you’re together. The only difference between Xan and your average local band member is that Xan is dead. Well, undead. He’s a vampire, though you’d never be able to tell if it weren’t for the occasional need to slurp blood.
Crooked Fang by Carrie Clevenger is a strange, but enjoyable, story. The first part of it acquaints you with Xan and how un-stereotypical-vampire-like he is. There isn’t much action, save an out-of-place scene with a “zombie vampire.” It’s a complete departure from the second half of the novel which is darker and grittier, allowing me to finally get into the storyline.
A woman from Xan’s past (we’re talking decades past) is mysteriously killed and her sister calls Xan for help. At this point, Xan reverts to the name he went by in life, Gabriel. Gabriel travels to New Mexico to help with the investigation which ends up, of course, being a search for an errant vampire.
I loved Gabriel’s interactions with the Nesferata, which is a warm-blooded breed of vampires, and his search for his friend’s murderer. If the entirety of Crooked Fang had been in this vein, I’d give it 5 tombstones, hands-down. The writing is engaging; the action is fierce; the motion is palpable. It’s the type of Urban Fantasy that grips you in its fangs and has you for lunch. The beginning of the novel, though, really hurt it.
There are several loose threads left because of events prior to Xan going to New Mexico. For example, prior to his arrival in New Mexico, Xan received mysterious phone calls that are never explained, but somehow may be connected to two other characters. Also, another character seems to get introduced simply to serve as a foil for Xan.
I hesitated to include the previous paragraph in this review because I truly enjoyed this book and don’t want to deter anyone from reading it. There’s great promise in its depths, and I know we’ll be seeing more from Carrie Clevenger; she’s too talented to disappear into the interwebs. But, as with all things, I think it’s important to be fully informed in any situation. If the first few chapters don’t reel you in, keep the faith. Xan won’t disappoint you.
- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Roc Trade; 1 edition (January 5, 2010)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0451463110
- ISBN-13: 978-0451463111