Just to make it all about me for a minute – this is exciting! I just added up some recent reads to discover that I have made my target of 10 books by Australian women read this year, mostly without even trying too hard. I’m going to keep going for the rest of 2012 because, well, it’s an awesome thing to do, plus I’ve already read one and a half MORE and it would feel sad to leave them out.
Walking Shadows by Narrelle M Harris is one of the bundle of books I acquired at Continuum last week and have been reading through in an attempt to actually read books when they arrive in my hot little hands, instead of hoarding them for three years. I was excited about this book being published because I’m very fond of Narrelle, and I know it’s been a long hard road for her with this book in particular. Very happy on a personal level that she’s now with a new publisher, ClanDestine, who are treating her books with respect.
And then I went to her book launch on the first night of the con, and it was quite a con for book launches! She had a smallish panel room but it was packed out, standing room only. Jason Nahrung gave a lovely speech, and Narrelle read a hilarious, horrible piece from her book that had her audience squirming and chuckling, sometimes at the same time. So basically I was primed to come home and read this book super fast, which I did.
Narrelle does so much that’s clever in these books. They have an intense emotional throughline between vampire and human, but it’s not romantic – the books revolve instead around the friendship between vampire Gary and human librarian Lissa, and how hard it is for a vampire to connect with human life or emotions. Gary’s quest is basically to live as ordinary a life as he can with what he’s got, and the narrative is constantly poking at him, showing the many ways in which it would be hard for a vampire who can’t get away with the glamorous black velvet look, and doesn’t want to hang out with other vampires cos frankly they’re all weirdoes.
There are no easy answers in Walking Shadows. Lissa has her problems too – she’s someone deeply bruised by the many ways death has intruded in her life, and now she has a dead best friend, which is less than convenient. But her fierce determination to keep Gary, and protect him, not only from vicious vampires and psycho vampire slayers, but also from her sister being mean to him, is adorable and compelling.
Walking Shadows, at its essence, is an entirely unromantic vampire romp, edgy and funny, painful and true. If there were Australian vampires, it’s all too easy to imagine this lot hanging around Melbourne in their squats and clubs, and it’s all too easy to imagine someone like Gary being baffled by technology, shuffling through life feeling old, and being utterly embarrassed by his fellow vampires. I’m excited to see where Narrelle takes this series.
Reviewed as part of the Australian Women Writers 2012 National Year of Reading Challenge
Tansy’s Australian Women Writer’s 2012 Reading Challenge.
1. Eona by Alison Goodman (fantasy)
2. Cooking the Books by Kerry Greenwood (contemporary crime)
3. Bad Power by Deborah Biancotti (spec fic, superhero, short story collection)
4. The Opposite of Life, by Narrelle M. Harris (horror, vampire, comedy)
5. Madigan Mine, by Kirstyn McDermott (horror, contemporary)
Opposite of Life & Madigan Mine reviewed at Galactic Suburbia podcast episode 55
6. Angel Arias, by Marianne De Pierres (YA fantasy, vampire, slightly science fictional)
7. The Getting of Wisdom, by Henry Handel Richardon (AUSTRALIAN CLASSIC, literature, boarding school story)
8. Ishtar, edited by Amanda Pillar & K.V. Taylor (historical, fantasy, science fiction)
(reviewed at Galactic Suburbia Episode 59)
9. Cracklescape, by Margo Lanagan (speculative fiction)
10. Walking Shadows, by Narrelle M Harris