The Vampire Shrink by Lynda Hilburn

Rating 4.2/10
The Vampire Shrink fails to stand out in the busy vampire fiction crowd.

Kismet Knight is a young psychologist with a growing clinical practice, and she's always looking for something to give her the edge in her chosen career. When her new client turns out to be a Goth teenager who desperately wants to become a vampire, Kismet is inspired to become the vampire shrink, offering her services to people who believe they are undead. Kismet herself, as a scientist, knows it's hokum, but she's looking at it in a purely psychoanalytic light, already imagining the papers she's going to write on this strange subculture. That's until she meets the leader of a vampire coven, a sexy, mysterious man who claims to be a powerful 800-year-old vampire, and she is pulled into a whirlwind of inexplicable events that start her questioning everything she once believed about the paranormal.

When a previously niche genre breaks out from its limited audience restraints and makes it into the mainstream, fans of the genre are often, for some while, tasked with sifting through the influx of new bandwagon passengers in an attempt to decipher the good from the bad. Never has this been truer than with vampire fiction.

Lynda Hilburn's The Vampire Shrink unfortunately falls into the latter category of genre additions. Her vampires are all amalgamations of the most famous fanged faces seen throughout various media today, her protagonist just another gorgeous woman freed from celibacy by a god-like stranger and the series of inexplicable murders tying everything together an uninteresting thread that feels mainly like an excuse for her characters' existence.

In Hilburn's protagonist Kismet, the author presents the all-too-familiar 'lonely woman waiting to be sexually awakened by her vampire lover'. The fact that Kismet's a psychologist does little to produce any fresh perspective, and is in fact slightly detrimental to the novel's progression. Thanks to her psychologist mind-set, it takes a disproportionately long time for Kismet to accept vampires' existence, despite multiple encounters (of both the good and the bad varieties) with the neck loving immortals. As the book is told entirely from Kismet's perspective this prolonged lack of belief restricts the reader from moving forward and is more than a little annoying.

Kismet's liberator comes in the form of Devereux, a typical vampire charmer who rings a few too many 'Eric Northman' bells (his sidekick Luna also closely resembles Eric's assistant Pam), being tall, blond and possessive of 'his' human. In an attempt to make Devereux more interesting however, Hilburn makes him a telepath, seer and wizard in addition to his vampiric status. Sadly, these do little to add charisma to a pleasant enough character and leave her main man lacking – which, in vampire fiction of today, is far from a good idea.

Although it's no doubt likely to satiate the thirst of hungry vampire fans somewhere, without characters you can root for, sex that's too frequent and crass, and a serial killer story that holds little intrigue, The Vampire Shrink fails to stand out in the busy vampire fiction crowd.

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