Review: Highland Vampire Vengeance by J. P. Bowie

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Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

Highland Vampire VengeanceScottish vampire brothers Aeden and Lyall MacKay live in a world where vampires are accepted as part of society, although they both prefer to be discreet because of the small Scottish town they live in.  Then their  small town of Aberglen, Scotland, is threatened by marauding winged creatures, police inspector Alistair MacFarlane asks the brothers for help protect the townspeople who are dying with every attack.  Alistair has another reason to ask for help, he is in love with Aeden MacKay and has been since they met.  But  Aeden isn’t sure about taking Alastair as a lover, seeing only hurt in their future.

As disaster after disaster levels the worlds governments, even the vampires find themselves under attack.  Soon the remaining vampires and humans join forces to defeat the most powerful enemy the world has ever know.  If they are not successful, it will be the end of the world as they know it,  all humans dead and the vampires enslaved to the Ancients.  Even as the battle looms ahead, Aeden and Alastair must decide to take a chance on love before it is too late.

Highland Vampire Vengeance is a thrill ride of a vampire story from J. P. Bowie.  There is much to enjoy about this story, starting with the Scottish vampire brothers themselves.  There is Aeden the more serious and reserved of the brothers who is in love with Alistair MacFarlane, the human police inspector of their small town.  While Alistair is doing everything he can to pursue his vampire, Aeden is doing everything he can to hold off the human’s advances.  Since usually it is the vampire who is the pursuer I liked Bowie’s twist on the subject.  Lyall is much more the party animal, with always a new lover in tow, never a serious relationship to his name.  Of course, Lyall too finds his mate when he goes to the rescue of a man carried off by the winged creatures that have invaded the town.  Bowie has given the brothers an interesting back history that I wish could have had its own story.  When we meet them they are living in their ancestral castle in the town of Aberglen, Scotland when the hoards invade.

Bowie does a nice job with the action sequences, especially those when they are chasing after the creatures and when they hunt them down to their place of origin.  The action is tight and the plot is developed nicely.  But I did have some quibbles with the book.  Some comes from the dialog in which a Scottish accent appears and then disappears with regularity.  The brothers, although they are several hundred year old Scots, don’t appear to have a accent but Alastair does, or at least he does part of the time.

Here is an example.  Aeden and Lyall are talking in their drawing room.

“Daydreaming, brother?” Aeden turned at the sound of the soft lilting voice behind him. “Nightdreaming, actually,” he replied, his smile still in place. “Now that you’re awake, would you care for a glass of Bordeaux?” “Thank you.” Lyall MacKay walked with a leisurely grace toward him, standing by his brother’s side as Aeden poured the wine from a decanter. Had there been a third person in the room there would have been no doubt in their mind that the two were brothers. Both were tall men, broad shouldered, dark haired and blue eyed. The only significant difference was that Aeden, being originally older by five years, had a more mature appearance than Lyall, who had retained his boyish features, despite the years that had passed. Lyall raised his glass briefly then drained it in one long swallow. “Very nice,” he said, licking his full lower lip. “I’ll have another.”

Speaking of which…” Lyall paused to sip his wine more slowly this time. “Did you watch the news last night?” “No, I try to avoid that lurid rubbish as much as I can. Why? Was there something of interest I should know about?” “Mmm… The local news reported that a young couple was found dead in a field by the farmer…”

Definitely not a conversation full of Scottish overtones.  Then there is Alastair.  This is how he sounds, some of the time:

“He’s having the residue analyzed and should have something for me tomorrow,” Alistair added. “Any ideas so far?” Aeden filled him in about the article he’d read. Alistair nodded. “We had a report of those attacks from Scotland Yard. Apparently, there have been sporadic similar incidents in London and Manchester. The police are trying to keep it low profile right now, not wanting to cause a panic, but from what I understand some reporter has an eyewitness account he’s dying to publish.

Fine, except that he will then apparently remembers he is Scottish and starts sounds like this:

 “This is the worst case I’ve ever been faced with, Aeden. I just hope I’m up to solving it and making sure it doesna’ happen again.”

or this

 “I canna’ deny that part of it is… Och, Aeden, of course I will be afraid.”

And then he is back sounding like a regular non specific British Isle constable again.  There is just an odd lack of continuity as far as the dialog goes.  As all  the characters are Scottish, it would have been better to have gone in one direction or the other but not both, especially with the same character.

Another thing that stood out was some odd word usage in the story.  At one point  during a meeting it is said:

“I like the Inspector’s idea of alienating one or two then following them,” Dylan said.

Which to me is an odd use for the word alienating. Isolating certainly, separating them fine, but alienating? Not really.  Another one that stood out for me was the use of lumbering  as in:

“Do you know what you’re lumbering yourself with?”

I have always heard it used in a far different fashion, perhaps as in “you great lumbering git”.  And in fact if you look it up in the dictionary, this is what you will find:

To move in a slow, heavy, awkward way : a truck filled his mirror and lumbered past | [as adj. ] ( lumbering) Bob was the big, lumbering, gentle sort | figurative a lumbering bureaucracy.

So I am not sure how this usage found its way into the story, all I know is that it stopped my reading when I smacked into that sentence.  So between a elusive language format, one case of instant love,  and odd words popping up here and there, my concentration on the story was as flighty as a vampire on the wind.  There were also some problems with a group called the Druids, a race employed by the Ancients.  The guidelines upon which this group operated on had their own moments of illogic where first they have been aligned with the Ancients for a long time, then act as though they have just been brought into the project.  Sigh.

But underneath the issues I have with the story, is a fast paced plot, lively characters and a great dramatic ending that I loved.  The issues I had with the story might be ones that bother you not at all.  If so, you will find this a 4 star story but for me, it just comes shy of that rating.  Still if vampires are your thing or you are a fan of J. P. Bowie, pick this one up.  I mean really, that is one great title, Highland Vampire Vengeance, and one great  cover. You have vampires, world wide destruction, doomsday machines and a villain called The Ancient.  It almost cries out for its own SyFy movie of the week! Will someone let them know?

Cover art by Deana Jamroz.  I love it, campy and dramatic, perfect for the title.