It’s been a long time since I’ve read a book featuring vampires, so I was excited to receive an advance copy of Josie Jaffrey’s May Day in exchange for an honest review.
I was expecting something along the lines of the Anita Blake series (which, if my mum asks, I definitely didn’t covertly read in high school) however May Day is written more in the style of a British police procedural. Thankfully, it also avoids questionable sexcapades, instead, revolving around an adorable sapphic romance. And of course, a murder.
Jack is a recently turned vampire – or Silver – working for the Seekers, an organisation commissioned by the Solis Invicti to hunt down any vampire who risks revealing the existence of Silvers to humans.
When an exsanguinated body is thrown from an Oxford tower during a public event, Jack and the Seekers get to work to identify the killer. They soon realise that the case is high profile when the Secundus, one of the most powerful Silver in the country, arrives from London to coordinate the investigation.
Struggling to make progress on an increasingly complex case, Jack is forced to accept help from her declared enemy, Baron Killian Drake.
“Here’s the thing about being supernatural: you have to approach drinking with a certain amount of determination if you want to get properly plastered. It takes time and it takes dedication, but I am nothing if not dedicated to insobriety.”
I love that this book is an urban fantasy that isn’t limited by the usual tropes of ‘vampiric romance’. Jaffrey’s vamps are unaffected by sunlight or garlic, with Jack being far more vulnerable to things like junk food, binge-watching Netflix or going a tad overboard at the local pub. I don’t think the word ‘fangs’ is even mentioned in the book, and any predatory behaviour has nothing to do with being a vampire.
“Killian Drake is an unmitigated bastard. He’s rich and powerful, which is a bad place for any man to start, but he’s also arrogant and elitist, which makes him a particularly wanky breed of wanker.”
The Seekers are a loveable bunch of characters with a fun dynamic. Jack’s short temper and sarcastic sense of humour remind me of Jessica Jones or Gideon the Ninth, and I enjoyed seeing her character development throughout the story. Jaffrey’s writing also had me laughing out loud more than once with her distinctly British humour. Her prose is descriptive and immersive, driven mostly by dialogue and focusing on the characters.
While May Day is primarily a whodunnit with an unpredictable ending, Jack also finds herself caught up in an unexpected love triangle. This isn’t a story I’m normally interested in, though I did appreciate how it was handled and how it ended. This book feels encouragingly feminist for a sub-genre that can often be problematic.
The only reason I didn’t give May Day a higher rating is that crime and romance are things I tend to avoid. I do think it’s a well-written and funny book, and I highly recommend it to fans of urban fantasy featuring vampires, crime and romance.
May Day is the first instalment in Jaffrey’s self-published Seekers series. The book and its short story prequel Killian’s Dead are currently available through Amazon and Kindle Unlimited. Thank you to the author for sending me a copy!
Trigger warning: Sexual and physical abuse