I've always had a thing for Carrie Clevenger's writing, not gonna lie, so I was a little prejudiced going into the reading of Crooked Fang, her new novel about a sexy, bass-playing vampire. I knew it was going to be well-written. I knew it was going to be tight and smart and edgy, just like her short stories that have been dazzling me since I got on board with the Friday Flash crew a couple years back. I knew I was going to like it.
I just didn't know how much.
There were a few scenes in Crooked Fang that absolutely set me back on my heels, scenes of such crystalline, short-leashed violence, such visceral power, that I felt my blood pressure rising and my breath catch in my throat. That doesn't happen often with me and, when it does, I can't help but shake my head in jealous admiration and say, "damn, that's some good writing."
For the most part, vampire Xan Marcelles ambles his hunky, long-haired form through the book, playing bass with his bandmates Crooked Fang at the Pale Rider, a bar in the rugged, spruce-scented hills and valleys of Colorado. I love the setting - reminds me of Muskoka, the woodsy place I call home, plus it's fresh, outdoorsy and blue-skied, not like the dank dark depressing places most vampires hang out in.
Xan's perfectly happy playing dallying around with music, whiskey, cigarettes and the occasional red-blooded woman, but he's forced out of his comfort zone by a murderous wraith, a wanna-be vampire slayer, a devastating fire and crushing news about a lost love.
The novel moves along lickety-split but the action crackles as the page width on the right hand side of the tome gets skinnier, and the last few chapters are rollercoasters where Carrie's mad writing skills are most evident.
To be honest, I don't seek out vampire stories. I only read Crooked Fang because I know what Carrie is capable of and yes, I loved it. It was a fast, fun read with some really spectacular, Stephen King-like moments. Xan Marcelles is a memorable, original character, likeable despite his propensity for blood, and I'm glad to hear Carrie is working on a sequel. I'll buy it in a heartbeat.
I would like to take this opportunity to say, however, that I'm hoping she tackles something more literary in the future. She has such a gift for writing that I could easily see her penning a work that could have lasting impact on American literature. Carrie Clevenger has that kind of talent and she's young enough and new enough into the game that she has a chance to really make a name for herself.
In the meantime, she has what could be a highly successful franchise on her hands. Crooked Fang would be a terrific film and I can see any actor playing Xan Marcelles being a bigger hearthrob than Robert Pattinson. He's older, he's bigger, he's tougher and he's got better hair.
Something to hang onto as he nibbles your neck, if you know what I mean ...