Review written by Jess Peacock
Stop me if you’ve heard this: An ancient vampiric force awakens. A teacher intent on finding the one student who can stand against the evil, a young, attractive high school girl with a secret lineage as a slayer. A “Scooby Gang” of friends who unite to prevent a wave of undead terror while dealing with the expected teen angst and cruel politics of high school. Before you blurt out Buffy the Vampire Slayer, think again. This is Vickie Van Helsing, written by Solomon J. Inkwell, the enchanted fountain pen (I wish I were kidding) of author James Grea. Which begs the question of whether you can call yourself an author if your magical pen does all the work?
Before this review continues, a few words of clarification: I am a critic, yes, and it can be extremely easy to sit behind a laptop and be…well…critical of the hard work of authors both famous and obscure. However, more than anything I am a fan of the horror and sci-fi genre. I want to read material that forces me back on my heels, tweaks my imagination, and transports me to an alternate reality where monsters exist, evil and hope is incarnate, and fantasies materialize in the hands of talented and competent writers. The Crawlspace is not here to shit on everything that gets sent to us, nor is it a site to rubber stamp an author who is kind enough to send us his or her work. The hope here is to simply be a tool that plays a very small part in elevating the art form. However, from time to time we receive a Vickie Van Helsing.
Aside from blatantly ripping off the Whedonverse, author James Grea also lifts his characters directly from Bram Stoker’s novel Dracula. In addition to Vickie, the direct descendant of Dr. Abraham Van Helsing, the Count is also resurrected in all his glory, as well as guest appearances by the relatives of Mina Murray and Renfield. Somehow they all apparently just happened to be living in the same neighborhood. If you are able to work your way past this absurd premise, you only have an entire novel of weak prose, shallow to nonexistent character development, and overly predictable plot points to work through.
At this point it would be problematic to continue this review without simply eviscerating the entirety of the book, which is neither helpful nor desired. Suffice to say, there is genre work out there you should be spending your hard earned money on (see David Wellington, Bob Fingerman, David Moody, etc.) over the amateurish Vickie Van Helsing. Or maybe just catch some Buffy on Netflix.