Day Boy by Trent Jamieson
Book of the Month
Mark is a Day Boy. In a post-traumatic future the Masters - formerly human, now practically immortal - rule a world that bends to their will and a human population upon which they feed. Invincible by night, all but helpless by day, each relies on his Day Boy to serve and protect him. Mark has been lucky in his Master: Dain has treated him well. But as he grows to manhood and his time as a Day Boy draws to a close, there are choices to be made. Will Mark undergo the Change and become, himself, a Master - or throw in his lot with his fellow humans? As the tensions in his conflicted world reach crisis point, Mark's decision may be crucial.
My first vampire movie fortunately was the 1922 Nosferatu and being a young child I can honestly say it scared the living daylights out of me. However, over many years now, I have come to be disillusioned by modern vampire portrayals, to the point I can say I am no longer a lover of vampire fiction, whether its TV shows, movies or books. The best and most simple way I can describe why is a simple exaggeration: I am walking down the street and a vampire jumps out in front of me. It screams a trite and clichéd line, "I vant to sucka youra blood, bro," which gives me a chuckle. Turning my back I walk away. I know if I looked around I would see a once fearsome, primal creature of myth and legend standing under a shining sun, in designer jeans and leather jacket, languished head in hand sparkling like the diamond he is.
Yes, I understand this is a somewhat sweeping embellishment, but the sheer over-saturation of these once terrifying beasts of imagination in popular fiction has created a melting pot of banal and bland stereotypes.
Thankfully, gratefully, delightedly Trent Jamieson has been able to summon up a vampire novel without relying on the now apologetic modern day Vampire norms. It's also important to note that the actual 'V' word is never used in the book, something for which I am very happy about. Instead, it is left to the reader's own imagination for the most to attach their own words and feelings to the beasts. Jamieson provides the physical definition of the creature and their visage of once humanity, but the impression, thought and the fear of them is left for the night and blood, doled out with a subtle hand and gentle pen.
The world that has been created is highly expressive in its imagery, set within a backdrop of a future Australian country. There is slow, languid feel of the land and the home the characters live in. Dry, rolling heat flows from the page in waves of long days and even longer nights. If I could describe Day Boy in words, it would be to call it a quintessential Australian piece of literature, which draws the reader in a withered and fading outback of a ‘to be’ Australia, mixing in refined fantasy fiction masterfully.
Mark the main character is a day boy in service and apprenticeship to Dain, a Master, a creature who rules and protects the land and its people. We follow Mark's path as he finishes his indenture and the choices, limited as they are, that are afforded to him. There is a hopelessness, longing and outward fragility to Mark which is contrasted against a desire to rebel, push at the boundaries of his life and tackle the harsh realities of his world head on. He is a character of layers, starving to find his own place in a world and is a wonderfully engaging character to read. Mark's personality and its interaction with Dain, the only father figure in his life make for an interesting dichotomy. A restrained monster with an outward glamour of the last visages of his previous self set against the vitality of the young and the guidelines the older and wiser try to impart.
Each moment of Mark's story is told in the moment and the now, and the consequences there of. Details of the world in which he lives, such as the rise of the Masters are hidden in the lost in the past, a secret tantalizing the reader and just waiting to unfold. It is a sometime failing of stories to indulge the reader with a lengthy backstory and in a series, which may run for three, six or ten books there is a definite benefit. However, Day Boy, as a possible stand-alone novel lays out these moments in such a way that the past can remain just that, the past and it doesn't detract from the story in any way.
Day Boy is a coming of age story set in a world of harsh truths, blood, death and survival. It is a poetic story of humanity, of monsters living in the Shadow of the Mountain, bitter cold and open to the burning of the clear night sky.
If you are interested in reading more about Trent you can check out our interview with him about Day Boy here.
This Day Boy book review was written by Fergus McCartan
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