There is an audience for this book. That audience, however, is not me.
Sean McCabe is a pseudonym for thriller author Scott Mariani, and in Uprising he blends the thriller genre with a vampire story. Our protagonists are police detective Joel Solomon, and Alex Bishop, who is herself a law enforcement officer of sorts. She works for the Vampire Intelligence Agency, which serves the Vampire Federation, a bureaucracy that governs vampire society and has developed several technologies that allow vampires to live relatively normal lives amid the human population. But not all vampires adhere to the Federation’s dictates. Joel and Alex discover a traditionalist cult that hopes to overthrow the Federation and return vampires to their roots: lurking in the night and treating humans like cattle.
As is typical for a thriller, Uprising features a number of action-packed set pieces, including a gun battle on the spokes of the London Eye. Gore is spattered liberally, especially since vampires have developed a toxin that kills their own kind more gruesomely than the old-fashioned stake; it causes them to explode. Joel and Alex get to do plenty of badass things, and a great deal of ink is spent describing guns and cars. There is a niche of readers who are bound to love this.
I’m not that kind of reader, though, and I don’t think I’m alone. I like a good fight scene as much as the next person, but in my urban fantasy I also crave character development, a challenging mystery, and creative use of mythology. Romance is not a requirement, but if it is present, I want it to be well-developed. The characters in Uprising are flat, defined mainly by their badassitude. Because they are not fleshed out, their romance lacks spark. The mysterious traitor is easy to guess. And in the overstuffed vampire genre, McCabe just doesn’t add much that is new. (While the specific chemicals that enable vamps to live among humans are McCabe’s invention, the idea of conflict between the vamps who want to live among humans vs. the vamps who want to dominate humans is all too familiar.) The plot points I found most compelling are recognizably adapted from Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Everyone borrows from the classics, of course, but in this case I’d rather have just reread Dracula. I like Stoker’s characters better! There are also several character decisions and plot points in Uprising that don’t quite make sense.
I had high hopes for one aspect of the plot, though. There’s one thriller trope that continues to be a guilty pleasure of mine: the quest for a legendary McGuffin, here represented by the Cross of Ardaich. Unfortunately, the scavenger hunt for the Cross, once it gets going, is brief and perfunctory.
So, Uprising is not my cup of tea. If you enjoy thrillers and would like to see that genre’s tropes mixed in with the paranormal, or if you like urban fantasy primarily for the action, however, Uprising and the Vampire Federation series may be yours.
Vampire Federation — (2011) Publisher: A gruesome ritual murder has stained the Oxfordshire countryside. It’s just the first incident in a chain of events awakening Detective Inspector Joel Solomon to his worst nightmare — and a dreadful omen of things to come. Because Joel has a secret: he believes in vampires. Alex Bishop is an agent of the Vampire Intelligence Agency. She’s tasked with enforcing the laws of the global Vampire Federation, and hunting rogue members of her race. A tough job made tougher when the Federation comes under attack by traditionalist vampires. They have a stake in old-school terror — and in an uprising as violent as it is widespread. Now it’s plunging Alex and Joel into a deadly war between the living and the unloving — and against a horrifying tradition given new life by the blood of the innocent.