The Calling is a new – and refreshing – take on the age-old vampire theme
Disclosures first. I met the author of The Calling, M.D. (or Marvin) through a writers’ group on Facebook. We try to support each other mentally and sometimes through reviews, beta reading or just by discussing various topics that affect our lives and our writing. As gay writers, tiny droplets of sweet water in the ocean that is “m/m”, the group provides a much-needed breathing hole. Marvin had offered me his recent short story The Reunion to read, and I was deeply impressed. This isn’t a review of that work, but if you like a paranormal novella with a twist, read it. I can’t say much about it without giving away much, but it’s going to have your mind go for a few loops! Amazing writing. So I was curious about his debut novel, but his third book, The Calling, a new take on vampirism.
I finished The Calling yesterday, after spending nearly every free minute of my vacation reading it. It IS that captivating. More disclosures: I don’t like paranormal. I like realistic fiction, contemporary, set in the real world. Vampires, werewolves, fairies, dragons, and whatnot are about as fun to read about as religious dogma. It’s fantasy, and I prefer to stay in the real world.
However, every now and then, it’s fun to just let it all go, and escape, and see just how far human imagination can go. I have recently reviewed another paranormal story which goes in an entirely different direction. I liked that, and I certainly enjoyed reading Marvin’s The Calling. It amazes me how people can come up with all those intricacies about vampires, that renew a stuffy and moldy concept. I’m old enough to have grown up with the quintessential Count Dracula, the one, and only Bela Lugosi. I wonder how many millennials have seen his movies on TV… Anyway, back then, vampires were vile creatures who killed mindlessly to drink blood and stay alive. You kept them at bay with garlic and killed them with a wooden stick through their heart, or – if possible – daylight.
With the Twilight books and films, vampires changed (please accept my apologies for my ignorant take on this. I really don’t read this stuff and I’m sure it’s a lot more complex), at least for me. Suddenly, vampires could be both good and honorable, and rather than becoming dust, they glowed like diamonds in the sun. How very romantic… They still drink blood though, and if I’m not mistaken, beheading also kills them. But basically immortal they are. Whether inspired by Twilight or not, Marvin spins on the good and evil theme, as his dark and light vampires are introduced in The Calling, and the story (I have a hunch, given the ending, that this will become a series) focuses on our main character, Duncan, and his becoming a vampire.
I really don’t want to talk about the plot, so here’s the “official” blurb for the book:
“Being a nobody isn’t Duncan Alexander’s life goal, but it’s worked for him. He has a nondescript job, a few good friends, and overall he’s content. That’s until one fateful trip to San Jose, California, where he is “Called” to meet the mysterious Juliet de Exter. Juliet is a beautiful, wealthy, powerful Immortal who is undertaking The Calling—a search for a human to join her world of Immortals. Inexplicably, Duncan’s calling is more dangerous than any of the Immortals, even Juliet, ever thought it would be.
There is more to this nobody, this only child of long-deceased parents, than anyone thought. When Duncan experiences uncontrollable dreams of people he doesn’t know and places he hasn’t been, Juliet and the other Immortals worry. Soon, his visions point to a coven of long-dead witches. The dreams also lead Duncan to his one true love. How will Duncan navigate a forbidden romance with an outcast Immortal? How will he and the others keep the balance between the Light and Dark, survive vicious attacks, and keep the humans from learning who they truly are? More importantly, who is this implacable foe Duncan keeps seeing in his dreams?”
I absolutely loved The Calling, the way the vampire theme is used, expanded upon and the intricacies of the plot. Shyalaman has found his equal! So yeah, no spoilers. Here’s the biggest compliment I can afford: I really don’t like paranormal books, normally. But here, I can’t wait for the sequel. If it’s as exciting as the first book, I’ll be stuck in a corner, reading it in one go, again.
The Calling is a gay novel, published by Nine Star Press. However, the gay theme is really toned down and not in your face. Quite the contrary. I’ve asked Marvin about it, and if you come back on Monday, you’ll be able to read what he has to say in his “defense” (not that he needs to). It’s quite refreshing to read gay fiction where being gay is as boring/normal/ every day as being straight. You’ll see what I mean.
No go forth and purchase this book, it’s an incredibly well-written (and edited) debut novel. It’s available from your usual outlets, including behemoth Amazon, and from the publisher itself. The Calling was published this Monday, New Year’s Day, and is available as e-book or paperback. Buy it!
As always, if you like my blog, my writing, feel free to subscribe to my monthly newsletter (top right on this page) with competitions and hopefully interesting reading. Interact with me on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and/or Instagram. Hope your start to 2018 was as good as mine… Have a good weekend, and don’t forget to check back in on Monday for the interview with Marvin.
PS: A word to blow my own horn. I finally received a Kirkus review for one of my books, Disease, and they’re quite gracious, calling it “a must-read for anyone in the throes of an ordeal involving Alzheimer’s disease” (Kirkus Reviews, 1/3/18)