Sunday, June 26, 2011

Ever Your Servant

About a week-and-a-half ago I get a few IMs from this guy at my office. Let's call this guy "Ike". Everyone knows someone who knows someone just like Ike: fascinated by vampyres, knows the best way to outrun a Shambling Zombie, will argue passionately why Gundams are not like Mechas - you get the picture.

So Ike IMs me all cryptic-like and says he's got a surprise for me. In my world, Good Surprises travel arm-in-arm with Father Christmas, winning lottery tickets, and my birthday cake. At any other time, it's only Bad Surprises running amok and generally throwing buckets of sand in your gears.

So knowing Ike and Surpises like I do, I fully expected his news had something to do with one of his many (disturbing) story ideas. Perhaps it would be a tale involving a lonely death-by-freezing on a derelict star-freighter. Maybe it would be a children's story where the hero learns the importance of manners from a tense and bloody encounter with Baba Jaga. The mind reels.

Screwing my courage to the sticking place, I met Ike for coffee and prepared for whatever weirdness had recently sprung from his fevered dreams. But all reasonable rules have exceptions, especially in MY world. This would be one of them. Rather than stories of blue-skinned lizard-men or giant, sentient honey-bees, Ike had an bona fide Good Surprise for me.

As we met at the coffee shop, Ike pressed a book into my hands - a signed copy of Ever Your Servant by local author K.A. Corlett. I was positively tickled by this for a few reasons:
  1. I like books. Free books are even better.
  2. I like signed books. An author's signature and a bit of a comment adds gravitas to any book - makes it that much more precious and personal.
  3. I like gifts. Gifts unencumbered by the rules of Christmas and birthdays are the best gifts.
Mea culpa time: I had met the author, K.A. Corlett, on exactly one occasion. It was a social situation (of Ike's doing) and we exchanged a few pleasantries - likely over the cracker-and-cheese plate. For this fact, I found myself with a one-way ticket to Dilema Town, population: Me. Because the author was now an official aquaintence, I felt a sense of dread and duty about reading this book.

If I read it and didn't like it, what half-truths might I someday need to concoct? Would I need to find something good to say since saying nothing at all would be worse? Would I exhibit some tell-tale twitchiness every time I changed the subject away from 'the book'?

Fate would conspire (and quickly!) to make me face those fears and read the damn book. It's another story for another time, but within days of Ike's Surprise, I found myself with several hours to kill in a hospital waiting room and Ever Your Servant was in my hands to keep me company.

Lest the ticking clock on the wall convince me that time would have no meaning for the next few hours, I opened to Chapter 1, and my fears subsided. The knots in my shoulders settled back into their more-familar positions. That creative part of my brain that tells not-so-convincing lies took a nap. The book was going to be good - very good.

I cannot and will not spoil the plot for anyone. The back cover blurb reads "Imagine Anne Rice being trampled by the cast of Are You being Served?" That's pretty apropos, in itself - vampires and comedy. But what really compelled me to keep the pages turning was the dialogue, especially between the main characters Joelle and Max. Smart, snappy, tense, sad, even sexually charged at times, I loved watching these characters. Behind them, a supporting cast that is equally well-drawn and fun to watch. And while there are plenty of light moments, there is a darker, sadder plotline that unfolds through every chapter.

Ever Your Servant is a refreshing spin on the vampire genre (sans the sparkly angst that has damned modern-day vampire lore) . It's a fun ride full of great characters and, for me, great characters and great dialogue always, always makes for a great book. Now, I realize that not everyone is lucky enough to have their own 'Ike' bearing gifts. And, normally, I'd let you borrow my copy of Ever Your Servant. But since my copy is signed and has gravitas, etc., you will understand why I'm reluctant to let it leave my bookshelf.

So here's how you can get your very own copy. I think you'll be glad you did.

And as for Ike, I guess I owe him my thanks for being an exception to the Rule of Surprises.