Imagine a far-flung future London (Londinium) where humans are as rare as Inuits are today in the same city. Imagine one where Supernaturals are the norm – vampires (which thankfully do not sparkle), werewolves, zombies etc. Imagine a quasi medieval city with fire-breathing dragons and you have a good idea of the background to the story. It has an element of Pratchett about it (and even a few very well appreciated Pratchett in-jokes) and the speed of humour on a par with Robert Rankin – high praise indeed from me.
Against the backdrop of this cosmopolitan city of Londinium is one ancient vampire proclaiming himself ruler. This rather irritates a lot of people and it is down to one reluctant young vampire named Ramses to solve the mystery. This is way above his remit, his main mission in life is to prevent feline tyrants from taking over the world. Nobody told that that would give him the experience to fight other vampires! On his journey he will meet dragons and a whole plethora of bizarre characters who live in the city including P-Head, Gimpy and Khalid.
I really wanted to love this book and it has some truly great things about it. The humour comes thick and fast and it was a case of blink in the wrong place and you miss a joke. It was an interesting plot with a great background. Sadly, and this is the only real problem with it, is that I feel it lacks a true coherent structure. Though the plot is clearly defined, the plot seems to just take us from one high jinks scenario to the next. Whether you like this style of writing is a matter of personal taste for some, sadly it did not work for me.
That being said, it did flow quite well – though in places a bit of tighter editing would not have gone amiss. I felt my attention drifting at times. Couple the lack of clear structure with this and it is in danger at times of slipping into messy territory – for a large portion of the first half I did feel that it lost its way. Thankfully this was saved in the last hundred pages or so, everything seems to be tied up rather nicely.
Despite being marketed as a YA novel, I felt that some of the humour crossed the line into adult humour at times – inappropriate for the intended age group of 12-18. I had to keep stopping to ask myself “can we really do this in a YA book”?
3.5/5 for me.