Pretty Young Things

Author: Dominic McDonagh
Telos Publishing
RRP: 7.99, US $8.95, Cdn $11.95
ISBN-13: 978 1 8458 3045 8
ISBN-10: 1 84583 045 8
Available 31 July 2006

Like most of us, Jay had often wondered what had happened to Chelsea; I guess we all feel that way about lost loves. We spend time rehearsing scenarios in our heads, how will we meet them? Will they have changed? For Jay, his musings are rewarded when he is reunited with Chelsea after five years; however, it is in circumstances that Jay could not have imagined in his worst nightmare. Hanging upside down, in bondage gear, being bled by a bunch of fetishist female vampires might be some people's idea of a good time, but not Jay's. And as for how Chelsea had changed, he was pretty sure she wasn't a vampire the last time they met...

Pretty Young Things is the new book by Dominic McDonagh. The book is less of a novel than a novella as it runs to only ninety-four pages. My initial feelings about the book were not great, the book cover and the blurb on the back give the impression that the book was written for fourteen-year-old boys who are looking for something salacious to read. However, I am happy to report, that whilst there is an emphasis on vampire sexuality this is not at the expense of a well-constructed and engaging plot.

The inclusion of sexuality in vampire stories has a long and honourable tradition, right from the venerable Bram Stoker, to the more modern Anne Rice; in this context its inclusion is understandable. Male vampires often fulfil pseudo rape fantasies; at the least they represent dominant male sexuality. McDonagh has taken this iconography and updated it for the twenty-first century; therefore the girls are described as into bondage which is another form of domination, though in this case female.

If I had a major problem with the book is that it ends too soon, me smells a sequel on the horizon. McDonagh whips up the reader with nefarious villains - not always the vampires - blood, gore and tense fight scenes only for the book to end. There was no reason that its couldn't have been expanded to a full blown novel.

The writing is very cinematic. Whilst reading the book you feel that this could, without many changes, be made into a television movie or form the pilot for a new series. After a few preliminary pages of introduction the plot is fast and furious, though not at the expense of characterisation. Like any good story the characters are multi-layered, McDonagh throws in enough information to grab your attention but also tantalises you with some historical facts that leave you wanting more.

Overall, this is a nice way to spend an afternoon. Maybe, with luck, we'll get a chance to spend some more time exploring this world which hides in the shadows of our modern cities.

Charles Packer

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