The best thing about God Save the Queen (Kate Locke) is that it’s clearly a labour of love and that love is infectious. Drawing a world where the aristocracy are literally parasitic on the country they command we see the likes of Queen Victoria and Winston Churchill in a new light – despite the fact that they only come out after dark.

There’s a certain pleasure in the idea that a malign and undying ruling class is keeping a resentful but afraid world of humans in check. While they need us to feed it certainly does not mean that they do not hate and fear us in return. Nor that the hate humans feel for their undead masters is not tinged with a desire to become like them.

In Kate Locke’s tale of aristocratic vampirism the figures of the past are still walking among us in the twenty first century and are obsessed with maintaining their clawed grip on power. It cracks along at a gentle jog, full of pace and joie de morte. Our “heroes” fill their lives with food, arrogance, and incongruous fist fighting which reads as much like wish fulfillment on the part of the author as a construction of an alternative world.

Here in lies the book’s strength and weakness. It seems like a good strategy to write about a world that you want to live in and of heroes that you want to be (indeed it is) but it can veer quite dramatically into the self-indulgent or the odd. There’s only so many times I can read about someone drinking larges amounts of coffee while whipping up a steak and fried bread(?) and only so far I can go with a half-vampire who likes eating chocolate when not punching someone’s lights out.

That wish fulfillment leads both to an infectious charm but also to a weak plot and swathes of text that a tighter author would have cut out. What you had for breakfast before heading out into the action, or what order you take your clothes off before falling into bed to sleep is perhaps the stuff of diaries rather than great literature – but then it’s not trying to be great literature just a bit of fun, which it certainly achieves.

Like other genre books I suspect God Save the Queen is a matter of taste. You either consume this kind of pulp fiction with ease and delight or find it all rather pointless. I can’t bear Terry Pratchett books for their rather light-weight, one idea, smugness for example – although he seems like a good sort. Likewise I found this easy enough to read and jolly in places but couldn’t see myself seeking out sequels or regaling friends and lovers with amusing plot details. You might find it more to your taste though and, for what it is, it certainly does the job with aplomb.

God Save the Queen (Kate Locke)

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