Monday, 7 May 2012

Book Review: The Substitute by Holly Barrington

Title: The Substitute
Author: Holly Barrington
Publisher: Self-published
Pages: 119
Release date: End of May
Source: Given for review (a big thanks to the author for sending me a copy of this book!)

“The Substitute” is set in an alternate Britain, where Vampires and Mortals co-exist more or less in harmony. However, that may soon be about to change . . .
Emily Brown starts her new job at Pathway Software, and at first everything goes well. She makes new friends there and her bosses are impressed so things are really looking up for Emily. Until her friend is killed. Murdered. The official account said it was a gang hit gone bad, and rumours suggest she had drugs in her possession.
However another, unofficial, report suggests that the bullet wounds were all post-mortem, and the drugs were planted on her in the morgue. It also says that she suffered multiple broken bones, cuts, contusions and…vampire bites. Everything suggests that her friend died a brutal and vicious death at the hands of a number of vampires.
Vampire and Mortal relations are, on the whole, very good. Ever since The Compact, there have been eighty five years of unprecedented peace between the two worlds. But there are some dissenters, the foremost of which are the sinister Circle of Ixiom. And Emily is about to become their bitterest enemy . . .

I was rather excited to read The Substitute because I haven'e really read any vampire books other than Twilight (which I liked), The Vampire Diaries (which I didn't), and Cirque Du Freak (which came somewhere in between).
So, you know, I was interested to see where The Substitute would rank amongst my not-so-vast resumé of vampire fiction. As a matter of fact, it fell 'somewhere in between'. I wouldn't say I loved it, but I definitely enjoyed it.

One thing I really liked about The Substitute was how unique it was in that - whereas, as far as I'm aware, vampires in most books have to live in secret and hide what they really are - not only was this a world where humans knew about vampires, but they actually lived in harmony with them!

It was clear that the author had put a lot of thought into building this alternate version of Britain in which the story is set and, as a result, the world I was reading about felt pretty realistic. As there would be with any government or ruling party, there were those who opposed The Compact and the way the country was run. This meant the existence of several different political/terrorist parties, including 'The Friends' and 'The Circle'. One small problem I had, however, was that I kept on getting confused between all the different groups - there weren't that many, but I kept forgetting which group was supporting which side and whaat they did etc. I also sometimes got a little confused with all the different characters. Of course, with the main characters I was fine, but it seemed like there were a lot of very minor characters whose names were thrown into the mix somewhere along the storyline only for me to forget who they were when they were mentioned again later on. Oh, and also, one thing that eluded my understanding throughout the whole book was what Emily was actually doing at Pathway Software. It was obvious that she was doing something to do with computers, and there was talk of 'integration modules' and whatnot (most of which I didn't have a clue about), but I never really knew what Pathway Software actually did...

However, my forgetfulness and easily confused mind aside, The Substitute had an interesting storyline. It was written in the third person, focusing mainly on Emily, but there was also the odd flashback, or excerpt from a book that gave more insight into the history of The Substitute's Britain. There was a nice touch of mystery to the book- who was Emily really? and what was she really doing? - and there was a little twist at the end which I liked a lot - I hadn't seen it coming at all, not until several pages before.

The Substitute may not have been the most well-written of books, but it certainly was an interesting and enjoyable debut novel. I would recommend it to anyone wanting to try something a little different in the genre of vampire fiction, or anyone simply wanting to try something a little new and different.


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  2. The world sound a little like True Blood! Except it's set in the South. Have you ever read those?

    1. Ah, I didn't know that, I will check that out, thanks :)

  3. This book sounds awesome, I just read ReVamped by: Ada Adams and humans and vampires coexisted in that world to and I really liked it. Great Review!

    your newest follower,

  4. This sounds really interesting! And I'll second that comment above - it does sound similar to the Sookie Stackhouse novels (that the series True Blood is based on), because in those books the vampires have "come out of the coffin" and everyone knows about them. You should check those out if you haven't already!

    1. Oooh, yes, I will be checking out that series now :)

  5. I've read two other books in a series that had vampires and mortals living side by side. Hmmm, actually I'm starting to think of more as I say that. The point is I hadn't heard of this one and it sounds interesting. An author that has carefully built a world with enough detail and thought to be very realistic is so impressive to me!


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