Words can hurt. I don’t care what anyone tells you, words are powerful and can cause real damage. And when those words are being hurled physically at you by an animated, angry book, they can knock you out flat and maybe you’ll need stitches. Officer Carrington Loveless of the 77th Paranormal police squad in Philadelphia finds this out the hard way, taking a vicious insult right to the face, in Skim Blood and Savage Verse.
You guys. You know I love a vampire. I really love a vampire that would probably make Anne Rice break out in hives, and Carr is sitting right there in my Vampire Sweet Spot. He’s a cop, for one thing, much to the dismay of his wealthy family. He’s a bit of a book nerd, able to quote (or identify) Shakespeare, A. A. Milne, and Oscar Wilde among others. His nemesis for the case is, in fact, a copy of Henry IV parts 1 and 2. I’ve got my B.A. in theater so I understand struggling with Shakespeare, but I never ended up needing stitches from it!
There are a few other things about Carr that sets him apart from ye olde stereotypical vampire, and the big one is that the guy that turned him kind of mucked it up. While Carr is a vampire, with all that entails, he can’t drink blood right from the source. He’s allergic to it. Makes him violently ill. He has a prescription for what they call skim blood— washed red blood cells without the white cells and a few other things. However, one of the benefits is that he can survive in daylight for short periods of time, unlike the ‘real vampires’ up at State Paranormal. He needs a hat and sunglasses and still gets pretty sick if he’s out too long, but still a handy trick for a Creature of the Night.
The other thing about him— and here’s where I warn you that this is a romance novel— is that Carrington is not merely unlucky romantically, but also absolutely sabotaging himself. He keeps going after what his partner Amanda calls ‘dumb jocks’ who expect him to behave like an escapee from a horror flick. Which he’s not. And then when his relationship falls apart, he gets depressed and stops eating, and gets depressed.
It’s so predictable that even the doctor that takes care of the paranormal cops walks in, notes that he’s lost weight, and asks who the guy was.
You guys. This book is amazing. So funny I actually laughed. Out loud. And giggled under my breath. If I had a physical copy of this book I would put it on my shelf between the Discworld novels and Dirk Gently. Carr’s whole squad is full of slightly ‘broken’ paranormals. There’s Wolf, who is not a werewolf. He was born an actual wolf and got cursed to be human. There’s Kyle who briefly picks up the talents of anyone he touches. There’s the animate leather jacket (LJ) who is a consultant to the squad and lives in their precinct house. And their captain is an anti-priestess for an elder god.
Not only is it hilarious, but it also addresses a few things like stereotypes and expectations and being comfortable as yourself, which are all things humanity struggles with. So there’s the Lessons Learned portion of the book. I did think that the one argument that Carr and the Rare Books Librarian Erasmus get into late in the story was a bit… I don’t know, rushed? It felt slightly forced like the author wanted to get it in there and just jammed it in a bit. Still, I’ve read this book twice in about a month now and wanted to read parts of it out loud to whoever was nearby at the time just about every time I picked it up. (I do humbly apologize to my coworkers. They weren’t nearly as interested as I was…)
So, five out of five rutabagas. And if you don’t like reading sex scenes, then you can skip it and not miss anything important to the plot. There’s only the one, and the rest of this book is so worth reading.