Scouse Gothic: The Pool of Life… and Death – Ian McKinney

(Reviewed by JD Jung)

“They romanticized the sex and violence but failed to appreciate the overwhelming boredom of being a vampire.”

Lee Melville is depressed as he just arrived in Liverpool but has actually been alive a couple of centuries. He laments lost loves and knows that he can’t be attached for long. Then he meets Sheryl Malone , who is a lot younger as she was killed in the 1960s.

Contract killer/antique dealer Robert Lathom has an interest in artifacts from Melville’s past. As you can imagine, he has made a lot of enemies over the years. Catherine, a released mental patient, is out to avenge the death of her son. Her neighbor, Michelle, cleans Melville’s apartment and is caring for her mother who suffers from Alzheimer’s. All of these characters (and more) have fascinating stories of their own, together and separate from each another.

Scouse Gothic takes you through an intriguing world of vampires and suspense, shadowed with  dark humor. Initially I  got confused with all of the characters and had to write them down to keep track of them all. Usually that would detract from the story, but in this case, it added to it and rounded out the novel well.

Liverpool’s history acts as a character as well. Did you know that the city was involved in the American Civil War? I also had to look up the 1960’s singer Billy Fury.

Though the ending is satisfying, it is open-ended enough with all of the fascinating characters that I will definitely read the next in the series. At only 200 pages, it kept me on the edge the entire time.

I have to admit that I haven’t read vampire fiction before so I can’t say whether it is typical or not. What I did learn was that you can’t run away from your past, especially if you’re a vampire.

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