Also by this author: Chameleon Moon, But Not Up Here (Poems About Remembering In Neon)
ACT 1, IN WHICH: A cute punk-rock vampire and a disabled firefighter-turned-mall-cop with a dark past join forces to battle the forces of evil.
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Part 1 of 6. Future parts (2-6) will be released monthly to Patreon subscribers. Collected six-part arc releases October 2017.
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Jude used to leap out of helicopters to rescue/protect people from terrifying infernos. Now, by day, he protects the local mall from rowdy teenagers who ride their skateboards inside. By night, he protects the the parking lot, and the rest of Portland, from undead, bloodsucking creatures of the darkness. Or would if he could find them.
But he’s just about ready to give it up (living with PTSD and pain from the traumatic event that cost him a leg, a friend, and a lot more is hard enough), when something crashes into his life. And his window.
It’s one of these creatures of the darkness – and he’s a lot less scary than expected. More cuddly, with dark fuzzy wings, and neon-bright hair.
His name is Pixie, and he refuses to bite anyone. Assault/murder/draining fluids isn’t punk, even if being a vampire really kind of is. He’s very hungry by now, and the much bigger, meaner, deadlier vamps kick him around on the nightly. Jude would love to find and fight some actual undead bullies. And Pixie could use some help staying… ‘alive.’ Time to make a deal.
Together they fight crime. And maybe even heal.
Of course, life still sucks when you’re a vampire who refuses to suck blood. Fortunately, there’s a really interesting new barbecue restaurant in the mall, with an intriguing new recipe. (We hear that the secret ingredient is… love. No, really.)
Stake Sauce is an amazing story that’s currently being serialised on Patreon and will be available in full on October 31rd, 2017. As of this writing, arc 1 is available on Amazon and 2 is already available via Patreon as well as a plethora of other Patreon-exclusive goodies. So, first off, if you’re not into serialisations, you’ll want to hold off on this story for now and wait until October.
As I’m writing this, the first arc of the story has been made available via regular retailers. I think it’s a novella-length piece in its own right, though if you value plot happenings over personal interactions and personal stakes (er, no pun intended) then you’ll probably find the first arc on its own a little bare.
Further, in the interest of honestly: the description of the arc covers the whole story. The first arc does introduce Pixie and he does get a cameo, but this first arc is all about getting to know the world and getting to know Jude.
Which, you know, is my jam so it works great for me, but I realise it won’t work for everyone and some will find the description a little misleading. So just to address that first of all.
Let’s just go talk about the story! I’ve only got access to that first arc (T_T), so this will focus solely on that first arc of the story.
First of all: I loved this introduction to Stake Sauce’s world. To put this into perspective, I’m not much of an urban fantasy kind of reader and I rarely read stories about vampires or undead. I’ll read both if interesting stories cross my path, but as a general rule they won’t excite me.
My point is that my general reaction of “OMG! You all should read this! It’s really good and fantastic!” is really really high praise since it’s got two very strong bias ticks working against it.
Also in case it wasn’t yet obvious: Stake Sauce is really, really good and fantastic and you all should read it. If you can join the Patreon, I recommend it! I’ve heard really good things about the extras and you’ll get to see the full story way sooner!
Stake Sauce introduces us to Jude, a disabled mall cop, and the way RoAnna introduces us to the supernatural setting through Jude’s eyes is hands-down the best way I’ve ever seen anyone handle that “Strange things walk amongst us” reaction. I just. Words. What are. I loved it. I loved the balance between the ability to read what Jude sees as truth and as a figment of his imagination and the way that it only gradually becomes clear that yes, yes that really did just happen. It’s really down to perspective and perception and RoAnna weaves them through and opposite one other expertly. It’s just very beautifully done.
This arc is a showcase of RoAnna’s strengths as a writer: characterisation and personal interaction. It’s also, very clearly, the first part of a longer story and an introduction to the main character and the world (and why we should care about either). Hence, if you don’t like stories that focus on relationships and personality, you’ll find this a little bare and unsatisfying on its own. But give it a chance anyway and see if the charm and warmth of RoAnna’s writing can’t captivate you.
I just. I fail at words. I’m sorry. But this was so very beautiful and I just want to flail at everyone and go “Read this! Read it now! Don’t ask me to explain, just read it and bask in its awesomeness with me!” which is… not exactly conductive to convincing people to read it.
This first arc is a very quiet and introspective one, dealing as it does with Jude’s struggle to determine whether he’s genuinely seeing vampires or whether he’s mentally ill and his memory is playing tricks on him due to the traumatic events that saw his life alter irrevocably. It also deals with friendship with his boss Eva and the way their friendship is strained by his PTSD and insistence that vampires are real. It’s touching and gentle and oh so beautiful. Eva tries so so hard to be there for Jude and to be supportive and Jude tries so hard and when you first meet them their interactions fair drip with the awkwardness of them trying so hard and not quite knowing how to make it work and it’s just ALL THE FEELS for their friendship and everyone’s friendships in this novella-length first arc.
Also the narrative does a great job at making the world intriguing. There are a number of things that aren’t explained or explained at all on top of the characterisations, so there’s bound to be something to hook you into reading on. Though it’s quiet and the narrative is all about setting up the plot for later, there’s actually a lot that happens. There’s the disappearance of Jude’s upstairs neighbour, Pixie. There’s a strange bat that slammed against Jude’s window which has been slightly forgotten by Jude because doorbell and which, I suspect, will show up in more detail in the next arc. There’s sauce made with real blood that is mysteriously delicious. There’s all the things Jude’s seen in the mall. There’s the question of what actually happened in the accident that forever altered the lives of Jude and his friends. (Jude and Eva have very conflicting memories. Have I mentioned how great RoAnna handles the way they discuss those? Because they handle that amazingly and I really enjoyed it.)
It’s just a really, really good introduction to the world that RoAnna’s created here and I’m so bummed that I can’t afford to support the Patreon, but I will just have to work hard to be in a position to buy the book when it comes out in October at least. This is on my “I am getting my mitts on this as soon as humanly possible/financially feasible” list. I had a blast with the first arc and I hope you’ll give it a chance and love it just as much.