By J. F. Lewis
Eric has rage issues. And memory issues, to be truthful. He tends to get angry and then come back to himself amid a pile of dead bodies. One of his latest dead bodies happens to be the son of William, who leads the local werewolves. Eric wastes no time worrying since he's pretty hard to kill. In Lewis's vampirism system, Eric's at the top. (Your abilities are determined both by your sire and by your inner strength.)
Of course the werewolves are getting pretty pesky, especially since they think they can threaten his daughter Greta. He also needs to make some sense of his personal life. He just turned Tabitha, his girlfriend, but now he's dating her younger sister Rachel. He knows he shouldn't, but something about her is irresistable. His longtime friend and business partner, Roger, is acting suspiciously. Eric would rather not deal with any of this.
STAKED combines action, well-drawn characters, and little bit of raunchiness to good effect. Tabith and Eric's relationship really gets me. She wants much more than he wants to give and she's willfully naive about the outcome of her desires. I could really despise Eric for the way he treats her, but he makes no excuses about it. He tells her the truth and surrounds her with people who can tell her the truths Eric refuses to face as well. I liked the both of them, although I worry about their specialness. (Yes, both of them have special vampire abilities.) In most urban fantasies, the gaining of special powers by the lead is a sign of the beginning of the declined. STAKED is promising and I do not want to see that happen.
I liked the side characters as well. Rachel and Greta, the two young girls, would typically be the innocents of the story. But Rachel is something of a criminal mastermind, and Greta has quite the appetite. As they say, fear the cute ones. Marilyn is the woman who loved Eric when he was alive and still stays by her side. She offers insight into his past and provides a strong human presence. Talbot, the bouncer, adds a few more mysteries to the plot. Some of his abilities are explained, but STAKED ends with little known about him or why he hangs with Eric.
Speaking of the ending . . . STAKED is a cliffhanger. I was lucky enough to receive a signed copy with this little note in the back:
Don't worry! The sequel is coming soon.
J. F. Lewis, like Eric, obviously realizes his own evil. I would say something about how he doesn't have the protection of immortality, but if he died we wouldn't get the sequel. Although STAKED ends with a bang and mysteries yet to be solved, it is a fairly self-contained sequence. The main plot begins and ends satisfyingly. REVAMPED, tentatively, will be out in March 2009. You can keep track of publication changes at Lewis's blog. Other information is available at his website.