Five Star Publishing
Hardcover, 371 Pages, $25.95 (review based on advance reading copy – uncorrected proof)
Review by Sheila Merritt
Loopy images and smart, snarky dialogues abound in Gypsy Blood. Author Steve Vernon employs an Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein sensibility in this book: The protagonist, a gypsy fortune teller named Carnival, is literally joined by his wise cracking dad; dead Dad resides in Carnival’s chest. Together, they form a comic duo smarter than Abbott and Costello, but equally beleaguered in battling supernatural entities. Think: Ash from The Evil Dead II with his taxing possessed hand. In Gypsy Blood there’s also an unlikely foil and adversary relationship that is sick and funny. The problem with this entertaining guilty pleasure of a book is its length. Coming in at 371 pages, it suffers by padding the tale beyond the confines of the story line. The plot doesn’t justify the length, even though it is peppered with oodles of twisted humorous pop culture references. As the character Polonius says in Shakespeare’s Hamlet, “Brevity is the soul of wit.”
It is ironic that the extremely talented Vernon should write a passage such as “Moving slowly, like a bullet in a John Woo movie.” By adding bulk and girth to the slight plot, the author slows the action, even though the execution is clever. It is hard to resist the description of a vampire’s kiss: “It was a good kiss. Sweet and sharp, like a caramel razored apple.” The author’s philosophical musing: “Love is a little like Hell. You either fall into it, or sometimes you’re pushed. Sometimes it’s a little of both,” is equally engaging, but the prose simply goes on too long.
This prompts a look into another book reviewed on this newsletter. In All The Lonely People, David B. Silva tells a tale with much more meat on its bones, yet does it with a brilliant brevity. Given the subject matter, he could have gone on at much greater length. The criticism of Gypsy Blood is that for all its great lines that make a reader laugh aloud, it simply shouldn’t be as long as it is. It will be interesting to see what the gifted Vernon does with the next installment of the proposed trilogy. He’s got all “the right stuff;” let’s see if he can channel it into “the write stuff.” It is safe to say, that Steve Vernon’s creations of Carnival and his sarcastic Poppa would agree that size does matter.