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The Media Man Reviews: The Solitale Vampires: The Child

Updated: Nov 30, 2023


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This'll be an interesting post for you all. Why is that? Because for the first time since this blog started, I'll be reviewing a book. But this ain't just any book I'll be looking at today, oh no. This is a book that is self-published and was also written by a friend of mine.


Written by an author who goes under the name R.M. Walls, The Solitale Vampires: The Child was a big passion project of his that he brainstormed on for a while and he had many ideas for novels that he shared with me as he made plans to become an author. This ended up being his first one he got published. The book is currently available on Amazon but only in digital format for the Kindle and Kindle app so you'll need to either own a Kindle or have the Kindle app on your devices to read it. The author also has another book titled Adventures of Misty Beetle and a sequel that are also available on Amazon.


Oh and it may interest you to know that the author, R.M. Walls, is also the man behind The Wandering Fox persona in his many blog posts he's contributed to the website this year. So if you enjoyed his posts, I hope you'll give his book a chance.


So with that said, is The Solitale Vampires a good first outing for my friend? Or should we let the vampires drain this book of its blood? Let's read and find out...


Section 1: The Story


In the fictional town of South Hamwicson, two vampires named Jackson and Helena Hawker live together amongst humans and specialize in killing the corrupt and deplorable side of humanity. But things take an interesting turn as they get a human moving into their apartment and Helena ends up participating in a mystery as she and her father find themselves on the trail of a missing child who was taken away from his wealthy parents and is being held to ransom. As she goes on this task to retrieve the child, Helena may find a new appreciation for humanity along the way...


The Solitale Vampires may be a story featuring vampires, but this one has a nice little twist on the vampire formula that makes for an interesting read. For starters, these vampires aren't the bad guys in the slightest and only kill criminals. Of course heroic vampires isn't a new concept but you don't see that very often so it's still a welcome change of pace. Also making the vampires take up detective roles was also a neat idea as I don't think we get many of those. It was especially cool how R.M. Walls thinks up how a vampire detective would work and how their abilities could be used for detective work. One example is the scene where Helena investigates the crime scene as they visit Charlie's parents. She tastes blood left behind and is able to relive what happened. That was pretty cool and it's not something I've really seen a vampire do in other media before.


I also like how the theme of this story is coming to embrace humanity and seeing that humanity isn't all that bad. This kind of story works for a vampire protagonist and the prose details quite well how Helena feels disconnected from humanity due to her vampiric nature, and yet she seems fascinated by it and wants to mingle with the humans more despite feeling out of place among them. Her connection to humanity only grows over the course of the book when she meets her new neighbour and gets involved in this rescue mission to retrieve the kidnapped child. Growing up as an autistic man with very specific interests, I've often felt like an outsider to everyone around me at times so I related a lot to Helena in this story. Reading about her growing interest in humanity and her development made her an endearing lead that's easy to root for in this story, and that's what you want in a protagonist.


Another thing this story does well at is build-up. Throughout the story, we're given hints that Helena's father Jackson Hawker has a troubled past but it never gives away any details until eventually, he opens up and explains his backstory. We're easily put into Helena's shoes as like her, we're also wondering what Jackson's deal is and why he's so cold and aloof. And because of the well-executed build-up, it feels very effective when Jackson does eventually reveal his past and it all makes sense why he's the way he is. And while we're talking about build-up, I like how the book executed its world-building too. There's clearly a history to South Hamwicson and the Hawker family and the organization they work for, The Foundation, but the book doesn't resort to lengthy info dumps to bog down the pacing and keeps the details vague enough so the readers don't know everything off the bat, which can keep things interesting and allow for future stories to build up on the world. The author does have sequels planned after all so we'll see what more he reveals about the world here in future instalments


Tonally, the story feels consistent enough on that. While it is a dark story at times, it never feels like it's too dark to the point of making the book a miserable reading experience with the dark tone being balanced by the more light-hearted moments we get with Helena's quirks and sense of humour and the pleasant interactions with her, Jackson and Ben. The book even ends on an optimistic and happier note, which further makes for a satisfying read by the end. This is an example of how dark doesn't have to equal miserable and you can have a dark story but still make for a pleasurable experience for your audience.


I also feel the story handled its pacing well. Every chapter serves a purpose and nothing drags. Nothing feels like filler here and we're given a lot of time to get some idea on what Helena and Jackson's daily lives are like (mostly Helena's as it's her story), time for the vampires to meet their new neighbours and especially time devoted to solving the crime and rescuing Charlie. I also feel the story wraps up neatly and even if the author has sequels planned for the future, this story feels self-contained enough so that you feel you got a nice little story that wraps up in a neat little package by the end.


My one gripe with the pacing is that the climax does feel like it's over rather quickly. For context, this is a 12 chapter story with 122 pages, yet the villains are defeated and Charlie is rescued by Chapter 10. I feel the climax should've at least lasted two chapters to feel more like a proper climax to the story and it could've added a little more danger to Helena and Jackson as it kinda feels like they won a little too easily in the end. But given this is the first book in the series, I imagine R.M. Walls didn't want to start off too big and yeah, I can accept that so I wouldn't say it's a huge criticism. But for some readers, I imagine it might come off as a little soon to wrap things up so it really depends on you if this is a problem or not.


Also, this isn't a criticism but again, it's depending on who you are as a reader. The book gets pretty violent during the action scenes, especially when Helena kills her victims. If you're a horror fan and love a bit of gore than this is the book for you but if you aren't, you likely won't enjoy this book so reader's discretion is very much advised here.


As is, I don't really have much to criticize with the story here. It's well-paced, engaging to read and features some neat twists on vampire lore and unlike Twilight or Hotel Transylvania, it manages to bring them into the modern era without it feeling cringeworthy. Needless to say, it's a solid first-outing for R.M. Walls and I hope he gets to continue honing his craft in any future books he may write...


Section 2: The Characters


This book doesn't have a large cast, but it doesn't need it as in this case, less is more.


We have our vampiric protagonist of this story, Helena Hawker. Helena is insanely endearing thanks to her quirky and cheeky personality where she always seems to be trying to wind people up but it never feels malicious (unless it's towards her victims) and more like she's just a girl who wants to have fun. I also imagine for her its a coping mechanism to deal with the stresses of humanity and the downsides of living life as a vampire. She starts off as distant to humans and is a bit of a rogue at times but over the course of the story, she begins to see there's more to humanity than she believed when she meets Ben and takes part in the rescue mission to save Charlie. Also after learning her father's troubled past, she learns to be less reckless in her missions and becomes more obedient to him. The relationship between Helena and Jackson is the heart of the story and once again, insanely relatable. How many of us have had troubled relationships with our parents and had a hard time getting them to open up? Funny, badass, quirky and endearing, Helena was just a fun protagonist and I imagine many readers will love her as much as I did. I especially imagine her love of kittens will win many readers over. XD


The secondary protagonist is her father, Jackson Hawker. Jackson is more serious compared to his daughter and is the perfect foil to her more quirky nature. As much as he wants to protect his daughter and stay focused on the mission, the story makes it clear he's clearly hurting over something in the past and when he opens up, it really explains a lot about him and why he became so closed off. As is, he does his best to remain courteous when interacting with his new neighbours and he clearly loves his daughter to the point he'll do anything to help her and train her to be the best she can. I also find it rather funny how compared to Helena, he's the more practical combatant as she goes in with claws and teeth and he just shoots the enemy with his gun. I doubt it was intended as funny, but I was amused at least. XD


Both of them work for the mysterious head of the Foundation whom is only referred to as "The Governor". He's a mysterious character whom I'm intrigued to learn more about and I imagine many other readers will want to know more about him too. What's his story? Why did he found the Foundation? How did he become the man in charge? Whether these questions will be answered, I don't know but the author certainly succeeded in giving us an interesting enigma with this guy. I also like how he's a benevolent boss who genuinely cares for his agents and can be perfectly reasonable, even with a mischievous agent like Helena.


And then there's Helena and Jackson's new neighbour, Ben Crolt. We don't see too much of him but that's OK since he's a character who's clearly meant to have an extended role in future stories. He plays his part well as the guy who changes Helena's perspective on humans and his nice personality intrigues her for he's the first genuinely nice human she's interacted with in a while. He also has his sympathetic moments where it's not-so-subtly hinted he's overworked and has had some problems in his life that we're yet to be told about but he keeps on a brave face and keeps on smiling regardless. If any human was going to change Helena's perspective on humans, it was easily this guy.


We also have the Sendris family with parents Cory and Rosy Sendris and their son, Charlie. Charlie is the titular child that Helena and Jackson have to rescue and bring back to his parents. Cory and Rosy are naturally sympathetic as grieving parents who just want their child back and I like how Cory is depicted as a benevolent businessman who does what he does to make people happy, not just for profit. We really need more characters like that in media as corrupt businessmen are a dime-a-dozen. Him being legit also meant we avoided any dumb or unnecessary twists that could've come from a character like this like say, he's the real mastermind behind everything or what not. What you see is what you get with these characters and that's all that's needed.


And finally, we have our villains of the story, Adam and Willy Weed. Adam is the treacherous former employee at Cory's company who wants to get back at him and Willy Weed is the man running the whole operation. Don't expect much from them as these characters are just one-dimensional mooks for Helena and Jackson to rip apart and pretty much die as quickly as they're introduced. They work for this kind of story as in cases like this, it really is just all about money and there's no deeper motive for it. Those that prefer more interesting and complex villains however will be very disappointed. I'm personally fine with it given this is the first story and so the threat level should be low for now and it should build up and up and up with future instalments so while some may feel the villains were weak here, I can let it slide as I can see what R.M. Walls was going for here.


The cast are very strong and play their roles well and the two main leads easily carry this story between them. A good cast makes for a good story and this is certainly a good cast...


Section 3: The Prose


This is where you can tell this is a self-published book for the prose definitely feels like it needed some proof-reading. But I'll cover that later as let's talk about the good stuff first.


The prose for the most part feels well-handled here with not too many unnecessary details cluttering the pages and as I like to see when I'm reading a book, it details well on the character's inner thoughts and feelings in any given situation. Helena especially gets a lot of those moments with some scenes involving her walking through the city and going about her day while the prose details her lamentation on how she can't really be a part of the world she lives in. As a vampire she's very much an outcast and can't really mingle with humans while having to keep her vampire life a secret. It only adds to her plight and makes her more sympathetic to the reader.


And as mentioned before with the build-up to Jackson's eventual backstory reveal, the prose doesn't give any important details away so as to spoil the reveal beforehand. It makes it clear Jackson has some kind of past trauma on his mind through his body language and the way he interacts with Helena so we can tell something's on his mind but we have no idea on what until the chapter where it's revealed. It's the same with Ben too. There's clearly something we don't know about him but the prose gives nothing away, which can keep things interesting for the character in future instalments as we may learn more about him in those sequels...


I also feel the prose details the backgrounds well enough so we can envision where the characters are but again, it doesn't bog us down with too much details. The details are vague enough so we can use our imaginations a little but clear enough so we know what kind of places they're in at any given time. Naturally the important places like the Hawker's apartment are given more details but they only serve to fill in some details on what Helena and Jackson's home life is like to further make them relatable to the reader.


And as mentioned before, the book gets violent during the action scenes and I do mean VIOLENT. The prose spares no expense at describing how bloody the demise of these criminals is and as we can see, Helena and Jackson do NOT make it pretty. If you're squeamish then you may want to skip those moments when you read this book.


As is, it's time to address what I mentioned before: the fact that this is a self-published book and it shows. The prose has a lot of grammatical mistakes and a couple of spelling errors in places and there are some words I feel could've been used instead of what was actually used. Also there's a couple of cases where the author gives long sentences with a lot of commas when it feels like he could've broken them up with a few more full stops to make them easier to read. And also it would've helped if he spaced out the dialogue from the prose as it just looks kinda odd when it's attached to the prose like so.


But I can't be too harsh as this is his first book and his first time publishing one so mistakes will happen and he'll be able to work on fixing them for any future instalments. As is, for a self-published book, it's still well-written for the most part and the prose is solid enough to give readers a good read in spite of those errors I mentioned. I just hope there won't be any readers who are too harsh about it for we all know how unforgiving grammar and spelling Nazis can be with books at times...


Overall


The Solitale Vampires: The Child is a solid first entry in R.M. Walls's library and well worth a read. The story was engaging, the characters are interesting, the tone is well-balanced, the humour is well done and the prose, while flawed, is well structured. If you're looking for something new to read and want to see what fresh new talent can offer you, I'd recommend giving this a read. If you don't like horror stories and can't stand gore, then you're best staying away from this one. As is, I hope this book can grow in popularity and find an audience and we can help this thing grow into a series for it has much potential to be something really great in the future. I'd especially love to see an eventual paperback release so we can own physical copies of this book and keep it always...


And that's all I have for this review. I hope you enjoyed it and I really hope you'll give this book a chance and give some major support to my friend, R.M. Walls, and help his writing career grow. Feel free to share your thoughts down below. Do you like this book? Do you not? Comment away. ^^


Next time, I'll be interviewing the author himself. Hope to see you there media fans!


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5 Comments


Just read it too.


I liked it as well. It feels a bit simple but it is menat to be the first in a series and deliberately starts of simple and easy to follow, building on the most important aspects of the book series first

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Guest
Nov 02, 2023

First things first that was an excellent well written review, very constructive and fair. I haven’t quite finished reading the book yet, but so far I quite agree with your review. Well done👍

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Replying to

It was my pleasure sir and I'm glad you liked the review. ^^ Many thanks for your comment. :D

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mrdarkcatify
mrdarkcatify
Nov 01, 2023

Nice change form movies, tv shows etc that you usually do.


This book sounds promising so maybe I'll give myself a read and R.M. Walls sure know how to developed characters than real writers would like Stephen King or Tom Clancy.

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Repeating here through a actual account.


R.M. Walls here. Thank you for the review and you gave me a lot to work on in regards to improvement in prose and villains. I will do my absolute best For you and my readers.

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