Monday, June 7, 2010
Moonshine by Alaya Johnson
St. Martin's Press
paranormal historical fiction
Imagine it's New York City in the roaring twenties and you teach English in a night school for immigrants. Sounds pretty normal, but add in the fact that vampires and all sorts of "Others" are integrated into society alongside humans. Not sounding so typical anymore, unless you're Zephyr Hollis. Zephyr, reformed "Defender", is a "blessed" blade wielding, social activist extraordinaire, feminist, and closet Jazz singer. The vampire suffragette, as she's affectionately and mockingly known, is sent into a tail spin when a series of events beginning with a half dead little boy she finds in an alley on her way to teach one evening. Zephyr's comings and goings include a charming cast of characters including her hypocritically prudish landlady Mrs. Brodsky, roommate with a sixth sense Aileen, socialite and journalist Lily, and the ever mysterious Amir. Amir is not only an "Other" unlike any Zephyr's ever encountered, but also he's flirtatious, sarcastic, and dangerous- a winning combination for an intense budding romance.
Alaya Johnson has written a fast-paced, engaging novel. Her no nonsense, sharp tongued characterizations of Zephyr and Amir make this an enchanting read. The notion of Moonshine being merely another vampire or paranormal fiction novel is taking it a bit too lightly. Though a quirky and supernatural tale, it's also a guise for a more grounded critique on race. Zephyr struggles daily to get humans to see that the "Others", who openly live, work, and play in mainstream society, are still deserving of humanity even if not human.
Disclosure: This book was provided by the publisher.