38 Following

Bryan Thomas Schmidt

My thoughts on books, stories, authors, and publishing

Currently reading

The Clockwork Dagger
Beth Cato
Progress: 120/360 pages
The Road to Science Fiction 3: From Heinlein to Here
James Gunn
The Road to Science Fiction 4: From Here to Forever
James Gunn
The Road to Science Fiction 1
James Gunn
A Broken Christmas
Claire Ashgrove
The Ultra Thin Man
Patrick Swenson
Progress: 174/334 pages
The Broken Eye
Brent Weeks
The Dark Between the Stars
Kevin J. Anderson
Oath of Fealty
Elizabeth Moon
The Road to Science Fiction 2: From Wells to Heinlein
James Gunn

Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider

Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider - Ellen C. Maze Review: Rabbit
Rabbit: Chasing Beth Rider is the story of the famous novelist Beth Rider, author of vampire books and a Christian, who finds herself being pursued by the Rakum, an ancient order of vampires. Labelled a "Rabbit," a marked target, by an Elder, she is hunted by all Rakum to be tortured again and again because her books have started causing Rakum to leave the fold in search of a better way.

When some of the vampires try and protect her, she finds herself surrounded by conflict as the power struggle rages around her. As the conflict grows, Beth finds her faith a pillar of strength in the midst of it and soon her strength inspires those around her. They began asking questions and seeking answers they'd never thought about before. The "virus" sweeping through the Rakum, so feared by Jack Dawn, Beth and Michael's nemesis, begans spreading all the more, until the final confrontation with the Rakum Fathers and Beth's God.

I have to admit, when Ellen first described her book, I was skeptical. I had no concept of how Christianity and Vampires could be in the same book. Other than a vampire hunter priest, it just didn't make sense to me. And I also have to say the book had a slow start. Despite the short chapters and moving between characters, it didn't really hook me until 40 pages in when the back story of one of the supporting characters just touched me. After that I devoured the book rapidly, page after page.

First novels are tricky, especially then they are self-published, which is becoming more and more common. But Maze avoids most of the pitfalls. There are some missed words, such as "to" for "too" and such, but even novels from the major print houses let those slip through sometimes. For me the novel's major weaknesses were two holes in character motivations. First, with Michael seeming to flip over Beth because she's a pretty girl and looks too nice to be an enemy of the Rakum. Given the risks and potential costs for him, I expected a stronger reasoning. Men are attracted to pretty girls, yes, but this is a vampire and his own kind all hunt him over this. Why would a man who has lived on human blood take such a risk just for a pretty human? He's immortal, she's not, and he could lose everything.

The second motivational issue involved Beth herself, whose faith is so solid and even that she seems to hardly fear the events unfolding around her. In my experience, even strong, devoted Christians would have moments of fear and questioning when being hunted by blood thirsty killers, especially mythical creatures, but Beth never seems to. Additionally, faced with the possibility of extraterrestrials at one point, she finds them hard to believe while fully accepting the vampires and other craziness consuming her days.

Despite these issues, the book sweeps you away. Maze does an amazing job with pacing, keeping things moving at a lightning pace in a way that catches you up and takes you along for the ride. The plot continues unfolding with various complications that raise the stakes as the book races toward the inevitable confrontation between the Rakum and Beth's God.

A powerful first novel, I am surprised a mainstream house has yet to snatch this up. It may be because of the present competitive environment, but I have no doubt that as this book keeps growing in popularity, they will take notice. I have the pleasure of proofing/editing the sequel next month, and if it's this good, the series can only become more popular.

Whether you're a vampire story fan or reticent as I was, I highly recommend this book from an exciting new talent.