A Girl’s Guide to Vampires by Katie MacAlister is a beautifully self-aware novel about women searching for their soul-mates. The protagonist Joy, and her best friend Roxy are looking for the kind of eternal soul-mate man you find on the pages of a vampire romance novel. Joy is the sceptic, Roxy the true believer. After a magical prediction from a friend the two women embark on a trip to the Czech Republic with both eyes open for the man of their dreams. Hilarity ensues as Joy falls into every romance trope she can find. But MacAlister displays cleverness with the way in which she subverts some tropes while wholeheartedly embracing others.
Like all romances the three main men have good looks and dark, troubled pasts, and all of them are interested in Joy. However the representation of the different kinds of affection they have for her coupled with Joy’s nuanced and charmingly far from perfect personality make it believable. Or at least more compelling. In direct contrast to the suave (and occasionally slimy) men of the story, Joy and Roxy are messily complex. They are both flawed, and slightly irrational but this just makes them easier to identify with. They are not perfect goddesses who are irresistible to all around them because of their boundless charms. They are slightly too honest, occasionally grumpy women who want their lives to be more like the books they read. Until it is.
Joy’s transition from scepticism, to thinking she might be insane, to self-aware acceptance of the craziness helps draw you into her adventures. It encourages the reader to just enjoy the ride without thinking about it too hard. This book may never be a classic but it was an enjoyable read with interesting and complex female protagonists. This book is apparently the first in a series and if I can get my hands on the second one I will probably give it a read as well.