In CT Phipps’ Straight Outta Fangton (book one in the series of the same name,) a potentially catastrophic threat loomed against the Vampire Nation. But the reader doesn’t learn any of that until much later. Instead, Phipps’ initial focus was less on plot, and revolved more around the development of character.
The protagonist, Peter Stone, was working studiously one night at the Quick & Stop, when an unconscious woman was found in an otherwise empty restroom. Peter, an African-American vampire, investigated the unusual occurrence. It was in those early scenes that Phipps slowly unraveled the heart of Stone’s character. Inherent in those scenes were also comedic elements which were at times snarky, and in other instances, used as comedic relief. Mostly sarcasm and snarky, though, done with an air of expertise.
His companions, David and Melissa, were fairly well-rounded, and that was achieved in two distinctive ways: his long friendship with the former, which became increasingly complex over time, and by what Melissa chose to reveal about herself through dialogue and some questionable decisions. There was enough to satisfy, and Phipps left me wanting more. That was smart because he’ll have the freedom to explore other his character further- perhaps intimately– in future installments.
All of that was shown through Stone’s eyes, and the sum of those parts largely helped the maturation of their world. And what a strange world it was. A lot of what made it so inviting (albeit dangerous,) was the mythology that Phipps weaved around the vampire lore. Gone were some of Hollywood’s staples, in favor of something different and bold and creative, which shouldn’t imply that some of those tropes weren’t present. It was a pleasant mixture of the old and new.
Phipps laid the various nuances and rules of his newfound world on the page, seasoning it with details along the way. That made for an easygoing read. There was never too much to absorb at once. To Phipps’ benefit, the admittedly high tensions between humans, vampires, and other magical beings crafted an almost deceptively simple prose.
A lot of the fun derived from learning from and abou. those characters. They helped inform the dynamics of said world, and the consequences. I was utterly fascinated by the reception of the Vampire Nation, and how they’d systematically bailed out the United States and, in turn, devised what became known as New Detroit.
Complicating things further was the grim reality of racism and other prejudices. Like the current US state, these were issues which still divided New Detroit, and the world at large. And Stone seemed to feel the reality of racism and bigotry more than most, to the point that he tended to call virtually anyone out on it. That became a little too heavy-handed after a time. It was didactic as opposed to theme. It’s understandable (even admirable,) that he felt incited by past transgressions, but in fiction, reader’s don’t want preaching. They want results.
Less is almost always more.
It was through those connections, and connections of connections, that the plot gradually emerged, like latent clues on New Age scrolls. But it didn’t feel like the plot, or even subplot. It was more like cause and effect of their adventures.
Phipps utilized a myriad of pop culture references, which helped enrich his world more and more, while also revealing interesting quirks about the trio of characters. However, they popped up more than necessary. At the same time, it’s kind of hard to imagine Fangton.with less references, if only because they showcased the wealth of literary knowledge in his arsenal. Never once did he come across as pretentious.
Along the way, something was always happening. There was never a dull moment. And everything served a purpose: either to move the story forward or as character development. Oftentimes the two worked in conjunction.
The grandiosity of the plot was finally revealed, and with it, many action-infused scenes, unpredictable twists, a plethora of emotions, and a very satisfying conclusion.
Why four stars instead of five? Although minimal, there were parts which could have used an additional edit, to rectify some occasional typos, needless words, and awkward dialogue. They briefly took me out of the story, but never to the extent that it took anything away. Otherwise, it was a very solid performance.
I’m eagerly awaiting the sequel, <I>100 Miles and Vampin’.</I>