Melville is a vampire but he’s trying to quit drinking blood. Last night he may have killed someone but at least he feels better than he has in a while and he found someone to love. Peter is a man who can’t get over the death of his wife but hopefully his guardian angel can help him even if the angel looks mysteriously like a pigeon. Lathom is a hitman who has been double crossed and wants revenge but a man he tried to kill has something sinister in store for him. Kelly is an evil man who loves to hurt people and create chaos but his luck is running out. Last but not least we have Catherine whose life has been spent in a mental hospital since the murder of her son but now she may have the knowledge she needs for vengeance.
These five stories have two things in common, they all take place in Liverpool England and they are all part of Ian McKinney’s Scouse Gothic. I was interested in reading this book because I enjoy reading vampire fiction but this book was not what I expected. We start with a vampire but vampires in Scouse Gothic aren’t the same as they are in other books. This book doesn’t fit easily in any genre. It starts as a horror novel but becomes more of a human drama with horror and mystery elements.
Several times while reading this book I thought to myself: “Where is this story going and who is the main character?” I got the impression that the author was much more interested in creating interesting characters that you don’t meet every day than making a long cohesive story. The best part of the story is learning how each character is connected and how they have influenced each other. This is a different type of book but if you love character driven fiction it’s a great read.
The characters are complex and no one acts like you think they should act. For instance Melville may be a vampire but he has no fangs and can go out in daylight. He’s immortal but he’s just trying to live a normal life like everyone else except he has memories going back to the 1800’s. Some of my favorite scenes in this book had Melville walking down streets and remembering how that street was in the past and mourning the people who use to live there who have long since died. You feel for these characters even when they’re doing bad things. My favorite character was Catherine because everyone around her thinks she’s stupid and she uses this to her advantage. Catherine puts on an act for the general public and knows how to get what she wants, such as the knowledge to build a bomb to get revenge against the man who killed her son.
While reading Scouse Gothic I found myself thinking of the movie Pulp Fiction. That movie was different from other movies of the time, plot wasn’t as important as creating memorable characters and putting them in odd situations. Scouse Gothic is the same way, all of the characters are fascinating and they all brought a different element to the novel. Scouse Gothic has the feel of a great ongoing series and I’m happy to see that there are two other books in the series.