Found-Again Friday: The Mark of the Moderately Vicious Vampire/The Kent Montana Books In General

This may be the first time I’ve been able to use that quote about tragedy and farce about…well, anything.

Why Found-Again? As I worked my way through ‘Salem’s Lot two weeks ago, I kept finding myself repeating the same cycle of thoughts:

This is better than I remembered…

sort of…

but on the whole, give me the parody.

My misspent youth.
My misspent youth.

I was in high school when I picked up The Mark of the Moderately Vicious Vampire, the fourth of five books in “Lionel Fenn”/Charles L. Grant’s series about Scots baron/unemployed soap actor/adventurer Kent Montana. The books, which are largely standalone, put their hero through his paces in a number of standard horror plots: Montana variously faces aliens, swamp monsters, an invisible man, the Elder Gods, and, yes, a peeved vampire named Lamar de la von Zaguar.

The Premise: Kent Montana likes his vacation home in a tiny town in Maine, at least until a mysterious nobleman moves into the big mansion on the hill and the locals turn to Montana for a little noblesse oblige and a lot of vampire hunting. Along the way, he’s helped—sometimes “helped”—by a local lass, an old salt, a clergyman with a weakness, law enforcement, a feisty funeral director, and an occult-expert dandy with an ultracompetent assistant.

I feel the need to issue a sort of warning about these books: they are very silly (if you remember my post about Cast A Deadly Spell, put these books into the same category). They’re rife with slapstick, puns, dialogue lifted straight from songs (I still remember hearing “Diana” playing on the radio in a Denny’s and suddenly understanding an entire conversation in MotMVV years after the fact), and in at least one book, a villain whose name is an anagram of another writer of humorous fantasy fiction. If digging those details out isn’t your thing, the books might not be, either.

The Verdict: Anything that can take ages to fully tease apart like this is my kind of book (see also the Butterfly’s speech in The Last Unicorn: it’s like a scavenger hunt for English majors). Besides which, the books are just plain fun. They’ve been out of print practically since I got them, but used copies can be found at Amazon and elsewhere, and I highly recommend giving them a try.

Might go well with: Scotch, junk food, old horror movies.

Next time: Is there a patron saint for good grammar?

J. A.

It reads. It writes. It watches. It researches. It overdoes many of those things!

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