For What It's Worth

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Review: American Vampire by Jennifer Armintrout

American VampireBuried in the Heartland is a town that no one enters or leaves. Graf McDonald somehow becomes its first visitor in more than five years…and he was only looking for a good party. Unfortunately, Penance, Ohio, is not that place. And after having been isolated for so long, they do not like strangers at all.
Jessa's the only one to even remotely trust him, and she's desperate for the kind of protection that only a vampire like Graf can provide. Supplies are low, the locals are ornery for a sacrifice and there's a monster more powerful than Graf lurking in the woods. New men are hard to come by in this lonesome town, and this handsome stranger might be Jessa's only hope for salvation.
Even if she has to die first…

Graf McDonald is on his way to a party and ends up lost in Penance, Ohio. He’s not going anywhere soon. The residents of Penance have been stuck in their little town for 5 years. No one has ever been able to get out and no one new gets in, until Graf.
Besides being stuck, there is a monster, that they call “IT” that randomly attacks the residents. Sometimes it kills its victims, sometimes it just inflicts injuries.
When Graf drives into Penance and breaks into a gas station to steal a map he stumbles upon a terrified girl just as the monster is about to strike. Graf isn’t too worried. He’s a monster himself, a vampire. While he saves the day and the girl, Jessa, the monster gives him a run for his money so he just wants to get the hell out of dodge even if that means leaving Jessa abandoned by the roadside. Compassion is not his strong suite.
But as I said Graf isn’t going anywhere soon, so he’s forced to team up with Jessa until he can figure things out.
Neither Graf nor Jessa are particularly nice people. Graf is a vampire and pretty much only thinks of number one. He plans on killing the remaining citizens for food before he finds his way out. Jessa may as well be wearing a scarlett letter on her chest. She’s an adulteress and the monster has taken a liking to her. She’s the only Penance resident it has attacked more than once.
Despite their negative qualities I enjoyed both Graf and Jessa. Although I understood Graf’s motivations more, I could see how Jessa got stuck in this small town and into a bad relationship with a married ex boyfriend. I was frustrated with her at times but both characters develop and redeem themselves throughout the course of the story.
I also liked how Graf and Jessa’s relationship developed. No insta-love here. More like insta-hate. Jessa has a very normal reaction when she finds out what Graf really is. They have to work together to survive the monster and more importantly the town but she’s cautious until Graf proves himself.
The residents. Creepy.....creepy people. They don’t know what brought the monster or what is keeping them stuck in this town so they’re freaked out. Justifiably. But they go the witch hunt route and get pretty scary. Maybe even scarier than IT. At times, American Vampire read more like a Stephen King novel than the usual vampire tale with the small town, spooky residents and references to morality.
I was a little disappointed with the big reveal of how/why IT was there and why they were trapped. I was expecting more of a moral judgment storyline….a larger meaning to the whole thing but it didn’t pan out that way.
There was a neat twist with Jessa and Graf but the very end felt a little rushed. I would love to read more about them. I’m not sure if this is a start to a new series but even though it tied up neatly, there could definitely be more adventures for our couple and I would love to read them.

Rating: 3.5 out of 4 Fun, fast read. More old school thriller kind of story than the romantic vampire tales we’ve grown used to recently. It has a nice blend of spooky, humor and romance with a paranormal element. 

Buy the book! American Vampire available 2/22/2010
Source: E-ARC from


  1. I've been on the look out for books that deviate from the insta-love trend. This one definitely sounds like it fits the bill.

    Thanks Karen.

  2. I love Stephen King books (well, the ones without aliens or zombies), so American Vampire sounds like something I'd like.

  3. Hmm...if it's available on NetGalley, I might have to give it a shot. I've never read this author before, but I've seen reviews of her books around here and there. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

  4. Sounds interesting. I have been looking for a more traditional vampire read. Maybe this will fit the bill.

  5. Jessa was a mmm, rhymes with witch, wasn't she? I loved Graf though, but you knew that, lol.

    I can't imagine this is the start of a series, unless the whole tone of it's going to be different. How is she going to keep that luscious Deliverance/Stephen King thing? ;)

  6. @Colleen - if you are looking for more traditional vampires I would try The Vampire Empire: The Greyfriar by Clay & Susan Griffith.

    @Barbara - Jessa was hard to sympathize with for a while there :-) I liked her with Graf and I loved him.
    Yeah - a series with them would be a totally different style but I felt like things were just getting started at the end there and found myself wondering what happened next. I wouldn't mind reading more about them but it seems lie a stand alone.

  7. "there is a monster, that they call “IT”..."
    I think Stephen King's lawyers might be getting in touch with the author soon. :) Speaking of...the setting also reminds me of Salem's Lot.
    That said it still sounds intriguing.

  8. This sounds pretty interesting, and I'm all for fun, fast reads.

    Jennifer (An Abundance of Books)