Thursday, September 1, 2011

Jess's Review: The Cowboy and the Vampire by Kathleen McFall and Clark Hays

The Cowboy and The Vampire
by Clark Hays, Kathleen McFall
Paperback, 408 pages
Published May 8th 1999 by Llewellyn Publications (first published May 1st 1999)
ISBN 1567184510 
Courtesy of author and Bewitching Book Tourss
Reporter Kathy Vaughan unknowingly has 2,000 years of royal vampiric blood in her veins, and neither she nor her cowboy partner Tucker realize how weird their life is about to become.

Jess's Thoughts:

The Cowboy and the Vampire opens calmly enough with the romance of Tucker, a genuine cowboy from Wyoming, and Lizzie, a savvy reporter from New York, but soon descends into a vampire kill-fest. The concept of having a salt-of-the-earth cowboy fighting against the supernatural undead works well and keeps things interesting, especially when Tucker has to go to the Big Apple look for Lizzie. It’s also nice to see his canine companion, Rex, aiding Tucker throughout his trials with the same loyalty he aided herding cattle and working the land.

Although Tucker’s character was slightly clichéd he added much needed realism to the story and occasional light moments which help break the tension. However, Lizzie’s characterization seemed all over the shop. There are too many clever things said by Lizzie which seem to be added because they sound good rather than it’s what Lizzie would have said, this could be attributed to the plot slightly but it happens throughout instead of as character development as the plot unfolds. 
Unfortunately the story is let down by it’s mythology which is, frankly, awful. The primary basis for the vampire legend in The Cowboy and the Vampire is Christian and the story is weaker for it. The reasoning behind the existence of vampires seems badly cobbled together and too often preaches about the problems of modern society. The same could be said of the inclusion of vampiric menstruation which could have been an interesting concept that would be both shocking and fascinating but instead comes off as weird and confused.
Overall The Cowboy and the Vampire is a fun romp, with a big dollop of romance, which tries to show us how down-to-earth and determined people would react to the existence of vampires. The mythology may be weak but luckily the story is  good enough to keep you wanting to know what happens next.  
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Rating: 3 Wine Glasses - Liked it, but didn't love it


  1. Jess, thanks for the very thoughtful review. We picked Christianity as the mirror image of Vampirism because there seemed to be such a natural connection between a the undead and a religion built around the worship of one who rises from the dead. At the same time, we were striving to show that Vampires, despite their centuries of existence and knowledge are still driven (trapped?) by the same belief systems that motivate humans. In the next book that we're working on, we dig a little deeper into that territory and explore the daily near death experiences vampires have and how that might shape a shared external consciousness. It's going to be a wild ride, so watch for it early next year.

  2. Hello! Thanks for the comment. I just wanted you to know that I really enjoyed the book (3 wineglasses is a good number! And I think I may be a harsh marker) but I felt like some concepts weren't fully realised. How you describe the connection here doesn't come across in the same way when reading the book, although I do think it's an interesting idea.

    The two things that I found difficult were the exclusively Christian nature of the mythology and the open dislike for modern society that all of the characters seemed to share. The first thing was a problem for me because it seemed to impose a very American/ Catholic angle, while I think it might've been less restrictive to acknowledge (briefly) that other religions/ beliefs have that connection with the other world, rather than making it seem like this is the one way. The second thing was smaller, but I do find it difficult that when a bad guy says something about modern society causing him to be more evil (don't want to give to much away) and the protagonist agrees that maybe 'family breakdown' has helped us get to this situation because it sounds too much like a political message. Since we're already in the world of Vampire politics I didn't feel comfortable getting pulled out of the story into thinking about how different people view society.

    That being said I did enjoy the book and can't wait to see where you go next and what everyone gets up to in the next book! Good luck with everything and sorry for such a long reply!

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  4. Jess, thanks again for the thoughtful feedback. You've really made us think more about the religious framework our Vampires exist in. In the book we're currently working on, Blood and Whiskey, there's a convening of "The Council" with Vampires from 9 regions of the world. They each bring a unique religious background -- not just Christianity -- and at the heart of each is a dictate too consume evil. Your analysis makes us more convinced than ever to really pursue this line of thinking to make sure we get beyond the singular focus of the Christian paradigm. In fact, we like to think that our Vampires in The Cowboy and the Vampire are just as trapped in their linear thinking as humans. Again, thanks so much for taking the time to talk about this. We get a little geeked digging into religious thought. Stay tuned for our next book to see how it measures up to your expectations...!


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