Tuesday, 17 October 2017

Road to Ruin ~ A Review of "Good to the Last Drop" by Declan Finn

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And finally we reach the end. Declan Finn's Dragon-nominated Love At First Bite series, part action, adventure, romance, science fiction, fantasy, and horror, and all fun, has reached its conclusion with this release. And what an ending it is.

If you haven't been keeping up, the first book set the stage, the second thoroughly blew it out (and up), the third brought out the big(ger) guns, and now the fourth exists to tie it all together with a neat little bow. Or as neat a bow as an author like Declan Finn allows. It can get gloriously messy, in the best of ways.

For those not keeping up, the Love At First Bite series stars a psychotic human named Marco and a bloodsucking vampire named Amanda as they progress in their relationship from friends to partners as the world progressively falls apart around them with every book. After fighting everything from vampires to demons to . . . whatever the heck the villain in book three actually was to what is ostensibly the end of the world in book four. The series constantly ramps up as it goes.

What makes these books so successful is how much fun they are. There are clear good guys and definitive bad guys, there is humor, there is plenty of action, there is a solid plot with developing characters, and the central romance is engaging. It's the sort of vampire tale not seen since at least the days of The Lost Boys when you could be serious and fun at the same time without insulting the lore or the audience. It also helps that the vampire mythos the story is built on is well established and builds off of concepts Bram Stoker used way back in Dracula and are given solid rules that must be obeyed. There are no glittering pseudo-vampires here.

As an end to the series, it's a suitable final chapter. Each book had slowly grown with scope and ambition leaving few places left for the series to go without devolving into self-parody. But the author avoids that trap by ending it at just the right point when the stakes hit critical mass. You will see carnage and death, and you will see if good really does ever win in this world of horrors. The last encounter is the final statement on all four books and the definitive last period on just what it is all about. I would argue the last few lines of the book sum it up even better, but I'm not going to spoil that.

Amanda and Marco have finally admitted how they really feel about each other, but is that enough? Part of the enjoyment in the series besides the supernatural battles is also the deepening of the relationship between the leads which finally comes to a head here. In fact, it might even have a key part in how things turn out. Love is the strongest weapon, after all.

Good to the Last Drop is what it promises. It delivers the goods you've come to expect from the series, and it delivers until the very last line. Several characters are brought to the limit, and not everyone will make it out alive, but that's par for the course in a Horror story.

This is a hard review to write because I don't want to give spoilers, but it is also the last book of a quartet, so I'll simply review the series as a whole here.

I've always been a fan of classical vampires. The original Dracula by Bram Stoker is one of my favorite Horror tales. But vampires have been de-fanged and watered down over the decades since. They're either generic killing machines or strong humans with pointy teeth and bad complexion. What the Love At First Bite series did was bring the monster closer to the roots laid down by Stoker and has fun with it along the way. This is a messy and intense quartet featuring plenty of horror, action, romance, humor, and even some Fantasy and Science Fiction elements like a garish on the succulent steak that is this series. The Love At First Bite books are stories you might have seen published decades ago when excitement was enough to get publishers to release series like this. Though with how Declan Finn disregards genre boundaries, maybe not.

As it is, this is the best vampire series I've read. An engaging run from start to finish as each book improves on the last and finishes with a conclusive ending that wraps everything up neatly. If you've been waiting for vampires to be great again: these are the books you've been waiting for.
Good to the Last Drop, as well as the whole series, comes highly recommended. You can't get better vampire-related entertainment than this.

2 comments:

  1. May I ask, have you ever watched a Toku show? Kamen Rider, Super Sentai, stuffs like that. I personally think you will like those shows.

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    Replies
    1. Not many, and not for years. I'm up for any recommendations, though.

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