The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn
Kismet Knight is a young psychologist with a growing clinical practice, and she’s always looking for something to give her the edge in her chosen career. When her new client turns out to be a Goth teenager who desperately wants to become a vampire, Kismet is inspired to become the vampire shrink, offering her services to people who believe they are undead. Kismet herself, as a scientist, knows it’s hokum, but she’s looking at it in a purely psychoanalytic light, already imagining the papers she’s going to write on this strange subculture. That’s until she meets the leader of a vampire coven, a sexy, mysterious man who claims to be a powerful 800-year-old vampire, and she is pulled into a whirlwind of inexplicable events that start her questioning everything she once believed about the paranormal.
The Vampire Shrink, the first of the new Kismet Knight series, was originally self-published by author Lynda Hilburn, but endured huge success when it managed to sell more than 200,000 copies through Amazon. You might cringe at the mere mention of another vampire series being published, but I have to admit that Hilburn has managed to create something a little more unique than your average vampire tale.
What gives this series more of an edge in comparison to other vampire literature is the fact that Kismet Knight isn’t a vampire slayer, a school girl, or some other supernatural creature, she’s a successful psychologist who helps others in need. However, a whole other world is opened up right before Kismet’s eyes when she meets young Midnight, who wants nothing more than to be turned into a vampire. Throw into the mix an arrogant ex-boyfriend, a cute FBI agent and a powerful eight-hundred year old vampire you’ve definitely got yourself an exciting, gripping story. I loved the way Kismet analyses everyone she meets with her psychologist’s eye, and with Hilburn being a psyotherapist herself, it’s easy to see where the idea for this character came from. She reads into people’s behaviour and tries to work out why they do the things they do, and it adds a whole other dimension to the novel in a way that you wouldn’t normally see in this genre. Particularly, when Kismet turns to accepting vampires as patients, I thought this was a really strong plot-device of getting inside the mind of a vampire, and to think about the little things that might affect their every day lives in ways that we can’t even imagine. It gives a great insight into what it’s really like to be a vampire.
What also works really for me as a reader, was the amount of humour that shone through Kismet’s character. As an avid reader of the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris, I could definitely feel some similarities between the two. I don’t normally care much for funny books but in this genre, it seems to bring a touch of lightness to an otherwise dark story. I like the way Kismet is so disbelieving of the vampires, as though there has to be some other explanation for their behaviour. Her sharp little jokes about her egotistical ex-boyfriend are hilarious, and definitely feels like something any one of would do inside our minds. Simply put, Kismet feels like a regular human being like any one of us, and that’s what makes her so endearing.
Despite the great characters, the strong storyline and the brilliant glimpses of humour, The Vampire Shrink sadly brought up one of my pet-hates of the dark fantasy genre – cringe-worthy sex scenes. These kinds of scenes have been known to put me off books before, and even make me put the book down without finishing it. There is something about them that never rings true and makes me feel like I’m reading a Mills & Boon novel. As much as I loved reading this book, I just cannot ignore the cringe-worthy lines that came out of the 800-year-old vampire’s mouth. I know big fans of the dark fantasy genre will probably love these scenes, after all they are usually a big part of what this genre is about – but I want these scenes to be tasteful, not trashy and cringe-worthy. If it wasn’t for this one little thing I probably would have rated this novel four stars out of five.
Overall I can safely say that I thoroughly enjoyed this novel, perhaps more than I ever expected to. It has everything you could want – a gripping storyline, intriguing characters, humour, romance, and a great insight into the mind of a psychologist! Several of my colleagues, who admittedly don’t tend to read an awful lot of this genre, absolutely loved it. It’s a great fun read that will keep you up all night turning the pages. It’s just the kind of thing you’ll want to read when you’re home alone, feeling poorly or feeling down – it will lift your spirits like a tub of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream! The next instalment in the Kismet Knight series will be called Blood Therapy, but as yet there is no set date for its publication, but I do hope it’s soon because I cannot wait to find out what happens next! It certainly feels like this series could get better and better with each book!
The Vampire Shrink is out now, published by Jo Fletcher Books, an imprint of Quercus. Thanks goes to the publisher for sending me a copy to review!
- Review: The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn (bookdout.wordpress.com)
- Interview with Jo Fletcher (bookmonkeyscribbles.wordpress.com)