At first I thought she’d poke out my eye, but, in perhaps the grossest manner possible, she pressed her finger to my nose. And straight into my nostril.
“It’s the easiest path to the brain,” she explained. Like she was a doctor.
“Stop!” I spat more than shouted. “Stop. Stop!”
It was painful. I started to bleed, and still she kept pressing.
“Why are you here?” she asked.
“I’m an ecotourist!”
She twisted her hand a little. It was an unpleasant, fifteenth-Circle-of-Hell feeling. She was out of the nasal canal and moving upward. Toward that soft spot. I have done far too much reading in my life, and I couldn’t help but think of those Egyptian mummifiers and how they would pull the brains of their monarchs out through their noses. Their soon-to-be mummies had been dead, of course, (barring any comas). I was getting the taking-my-brains-out-through-my-nose sensation while very much awake.
“Answer me without your quips,” she hissed. “I don’t like humour.”
But I’m so funny, I wanted to say. Thankfully the logical side blocked that quip and said, “I am looking for my mother.”
Following Hunted, Betrayal and Revenge are the second and third installments in Slade’s “Amber Fang” series and continue the hilarious adventures of a vampire librarian-in-training who is searching for her mother while avoiding various secret organizations trying to kill her.
In Betrayal, Amber follows clues to an underground facility in Antarctica where she discovers vampires being experimented upon by ZARC Industries. Instead of finding her mother, Amber finds her sister. They fight off Naomi the cyborg and Hector the insane AI and are rescued by Dermot, an enhanced human from the League (a possibly not-evil secret organization). But Amber’s sister doesn’t have Amber’s moral code; after trying to feed on Dermot, she runs away, and Amber pursues her. Amber is wanted by vampires and ZARC because she and her mother are the only known fertile vampires. Amber’s hot-headedness leads her into a trap from which she is rescued by the Preservational Librarian’s Guild. More clues lead Amber and Dermot to a secret ZARC facility in northern Saskatchewan where she fails once again to rescue her mother.
In Revenge, Amber gets a message from a librarian that leads her to ZARC agents who might know where her mother has been taken. But the ZARC agents blow up the apartment where Dermot is hiding, and Amber barely escapes by seeking sanctuary in a library. More ambiguous messages send Amber to Switzerland where ZARC has yet another hidden base, this one disguised to look like Castle Neuschwanstein. A number of twists involving Amber’s father and sister and the insane AI Hector complicate the plot, but, in the end, Amber rescues her mother and discovers Dermot is still alive. ZARC is definitively defeated, and so the trilogy has a satisfactory conclusion, with some interesting possibilities for continuing the series left open.
Amber narrates her fast-paced, violent escapades with a running commentary of self-aware humour and sarcasm. Banter is witty, situations are absurd—the whole story is one long spoof of vampire and spy fiction, with bonus secret ninja librarians. Sly popular culture references mix with mythological allusions to keep every nerd happy as Amber uses her extensive reading to solve clues and engage in verbal repartee.
Characters are developed just enough to make readers care. Amber’s discovery of her family gives her a difficult choice: follow vampire instincts and kill humans indiscriminately, like her father and sister, or research extensively to make sure she only kills murderers, like her mother. The ethics, like the plot, can’t be examined too closely, but Amber’s figuring out where she belongs and choosing the kind of vampire she wants to be is a coming-of-age story that grounds the non-stop action plot.
Genuinely funny on many levels, the Amber Fang books are quick, enjoyable reads for fans of Mission Impossible and Marvel movies and readers who like their vampires campy. For older readers because the violence is extensive and often gory.
Kim Aippersbach is a writer, editor and mother of three in Vancouver, British Columbia.