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REVIEW: The Called – M.D. Neu

The Called - M.D. Neu

Genre: Paranormal, Romance

Reviewer: Ulysses, Paranormal Romance Guild

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About The Book

The world is changing quickly for Chris now that he’s part of the Immortal Community. With the events of his past finally behind him, he’s still having visions and true magic is gradually taking hold in the world. Chris is still new and has no real standing in the Immortal Community, but he is learning that nothing is what he thought.

Old enemies must work together and longtime friends may not be trustworthy. With Juliet, Amanda, and Kirtus by his side, they have to prevent the immortal and witch community from being exposed.

New friendships are made, and longtime alliances are called into question. How will The Called defeat these latest threats, and what does it mean for the world?

The Review

M.D. Neu’s second book in “The Calling” series fulfills the promise of the first book, offering up a charmingly quirky take on vampire fiction set in California’s Silicon Valley. If it seems far-fetched that the head of an ancient global vampire coalition would end up in San Jose, you need only think of the persistent westward march of human colonization from the Old World to the New to see how Juliet de Exter’s path was chosen. The idea that modern technology has made possible the ongoing function of such a global shadow government, loosely managing the affairs of “immortals” in every corner of the world, seems somehow plausible. 

In the end, however, this story belongs to Christopher Raymond, the Called of Juliet de Exter. In vampire terms, he is her protégé and her offspring. Drawn to Juliet by her supernatural abilities, Chris finds a home among the immortal denizens of Silicon Valley, even though he is consistently puzzled by the complicated politics and internecine conflict dating back to the Ancient Mediterranean. Part of the charm of this book is that Chris, who has talents unknown in any other vampire in the modern world, is sort of a doofus. He is constantly confused and bemused, not just by his own admittedly terrifying powers, but by the often crazy behavior exhibited by all the other vampires, most of whom are centuries old and should know better. 

Chris’s love for Kirtus Lancaster, whose own status shifts dramatically in this second book, is his emotional anchor. Kirtus and Juliet are his family in this new world, but Chris is forever trying to play catch-up with the shifting alliances and volatile personalities in the vampire world. 

I made a wisecrack in my review of “The Calling,” likening it to the iconic 1980s television series “Dynasty.”  As I finished this book, I realized that this still holds true, and that these books would make an amazing limited series for Netflix. M.D. Neu’s visual sensibilities create a very vivid prose setting for the hyperbolic drama that Chris has to survive—a drama in which he becomes the catalyst.

All authors who write vampire novels have been inspired by the same sources, and so it is always fascinating to see how each storyteller alters the lore to suit his or her imagination. Bram Stoker, after all, based his “Dracula” narrative almost entirely on ignorance, and he did just fine. Us vampire fans today know a lot more about both the folklore and the literary tradition of vampire fiction. Each author writes their vampire world to satisfy their own emotional and artistic needs. M.D. Neu has created something distinctive and more than a little offbeat, which nonetheless remains distinctly American in style and content. 

For all that this book ends solidly and with a certain finality, it seems to me that there’s great potential for more books to come out of this. Fingers crossed.

The Reviewer

Ulysses Grant Dietz grew up in Syracuse, New York, where his Leave It to Beaver life was enlivened by his fascination with vampires, from Bela Lugosi to Barnabas Collins. He studied French at Yale, and was trained to be a museum curator at the University of Delaware. A curator since 1980, Ulysses has never stopped writing fiction for the sheer pleasure of it. He created the character of Desmond Beckwith in 1988 as his personal response to Anne Rice’s landmark novels. Alyson Books released his first novel, Desmond, in 1998. Vampire in Suburbia, the sequel to Desmond, is his second novel.

Ulysses lives in suburban New Jersey with his husband of over 41 years and their two almost-grown children.

By the way, the name Ulysses was not his parents’ idea of a joke: he is a great-great grandson of Ulysses S. Grant, and his mother was the President’s last living great-grandchild. Every year on April 27 he gives a speech at Grant’s Tomb in New York City. 

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