Book Review: The Girls with Games of Blood

The Girls with Games of Blood

By Alex Bledsoe

Tor /Trade Paperback, 304 pages

$14.99 US/$17.99 CAN

ISBN 978-0-7653-6161-5

Release date: July 2010

Alex Bledsoe’s 2009 novel Blood Groove is perhaps one of the most over-looked and most under-appreciated vampire novels of the last ten years. The sequel to that novel, The Girls with Games of Blood, will be released in July 2010, and this is your chance to make up for that lost appreciation.

Blood Groove told the story of Baron Rudolfo Zginski, a vampire in the classical Eastern European mold who is staked in the year 1915 in Wales. Zginski is mysteriously resurrected 60 years later in Memphis, Tennessee.  He befriends a group of younger vampires, in fact becomes a bit of a mentor to them, and they in turn help Zginski cope not only with such 1970s cultural artifacts as platform shoes, Blackula, and songs about horses with no names, but with Southern culture as well, including its covert and overt racism.  However, the thrust of the plot is on the younger vampires falling victim to an addictive drug that destroys vampires, a drug that may be linked to Zginski’s past in Wales

Which brings us to The Girls with Games of Blood. The girls in question are sisters Patience and Prudence Bolade, two women who became vampires as the supernatural result of a tragic love affair involving a Confederate Colonel.  The sisters have held their grudge for 150 years; the musically-inclined Patience travels the world during that time, and Prudence remains in her plantation manor, quietly planning her vengeance once Patience returns to the Memphis area.

Meanwhile, Zginski is still adjusting to the modern world of 1975. Zginski even buys a 1973 cherry red Ford Mustang. He, along with the younger vampires Fauvette, a teenager forever, and Leonardo, an African-American, have made plans to “survive” in the open by working in a bar and grill owned by a former pro wrestler.  But things become a little complicated when a new musician is hired to perform at the bar. Patience has returned to Memphis, and this of course has gotten the attention of Prudence.

Complicating matters even more, Zginski has come into conflict with a certain retired sheriff, famous for his use of a baseball bat, who is upset that “a commie foreigner” has bought the car he wanted. Between an angry sheriff and two warring vampire sisters, Zginski and friends have found themselves in a bit of pickle. Of course, Zginski has his own method of settling conflict, too.

Bledsoe’s writing style is equal parts gritty, erotic, suspenseful, and humorous. He has a unique voice, and a smooth style, but the best way to describe his style is that it’s a combination of Joe Lansdale, Anne Rice, and James Thurber. There is subtle social commentary throughout the novel, but it never gets in the way of a good story.

Bledsoe will make readers feel genuine suspense and genuine chuckles with Zginski’s interaction with the modern world. He is more than a fish out of water, he is a shark out of water.

In general, the vampires in The Girls with Games of Blood are amoral but sophisticated predators. They sometimes miss human folly, but they also know that their own emotions may get the best of them.  These vampires often waver between nostalgia and immediate blood lust, and Bledsoe makes readers feel for his characters whether they are the victims or psychopaths.

Do not overlook The Girls with Games of Blood, or you will be missing something you should appreciate — a really good vampire novel.

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