Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor is a Filipino-inspired urban fantasy. I got an ARC through Netgalley, for which I’m grateful, but unfortunately, the book wasn’t for me.
Sometimes, judging the book by its cover gets me in trouble, and this is one of those times. Vampires of Portlandia has an awesome cover that would look great in anyone’s library when it hits shelves on September 29, 2020. But I can’t recommend the book. Sorry, if this Vampires of Portlandia review sounds bitter, but let’s explore.
Vampires of Portlandia: The Plot
I was really excited about this because I love myth-based stories, and getting the chance to take a peek into the lore of the Philippines sounded great! We still have vampires and other familiar supernatural creatures but new and fresh, standing out from the well-known crowd of western supernatural creatures.
Percival inherits the Covenant from his late grandmother – Marcella Leones and becomes the leader of all aswang vampires. What he doesn’t know is that this makes him the leader of all other aswang breeds as well – ghouls, witches, viscera, and werebeasts. All of them, forced to flee the Philippines to save their lives, and living in Portland. And all of them know about Percival, but he’s completely unaware.
That’s the first wrong and worst step, for me, that the book makes. Marcella Leones purposefully fails to prepare Percival for his role as a leader. She doesn’t tell him about the other aswang breeds and the truce between them. That’s the sort of plot device I can’t accept. The whole plot, turmoil, civil war, and all, hangs on this plot device. If it’s not there, there is no plot.
To deal with the consequences of his grandmother’s failure to prepare him, Percival has to sacrifice himself to appease the aswang breeds while some of the aswangs go on a rampage and tear through Portland, killing the elderly and the homeless. Remind me again why did the aswangs follow Arturo, what did he promise them?
Anyway, I won’t reveal more of the plot, as it would make me even more bitter. Because it wasn’t a horrible plot, it was just poorly executed.
Vampires of Portlandia: Characters & Execution
The characters fell flat. And there’s a multitude of them. At some point in the book, Jason Tanamor, in the role of the almighty narrator, addresses the reader directly, telling us “this is a character you must remember and care about”, and I just… No.
I liked Roger, the little brother, the twins – the youngest siblings, and the cop. They had some character to them. The rest were just puppeteered around, trying to tell the story. And it was an entirely telegraphed story. We were told and not shown all of the time.
I don’t DNF books, but this one gave me a really hard time. I really wanted to like it but couldn’t. Couldn’t care about the characters at all. There were moments that felt like the book was picking up speed, events were about to unfold, and it actually read well, but something would rip me out of the atmosphere.
Mainly because it was so repetitive and constantly told us things we know. Not to mention the running in circles when it came to the relationship between Percival and Roger. They couldn’t, for the life of them, come to terms with each other, but the book has insta-love, for comparison. No.
Should You Read It?
I don’t know. Vampires of Portlandia and Jason Tanamor both give us a great insight into Filipino mythology and lore, but I can’t recommend the book with a clean conscience. I just hope that given it was an ARC, the book would go through a line edit and proofread, to make it less repetitive and to deal with the stilted dialogue. Also, peddling? No, Percival’s been pedaling all this time, please!
I don’t know. I wish the book and Jason Tanamor luck, it just wasn’t the book for me. It barely got 2/5* and was a challenge finishing it.