Fairy tales are some of the most timeless stories that we hear in our lifetimes. This explains why various media still revamp them into modern adaptations. The Vampire of Maple Town by Kane McLoughlin continues this tribute, but does it stand out? Let’s find out!
Full disclosure: The author of the book that I am about to review is someone that I knew from college. All of the opinions stated in this review are solely mine.
One of the first set of stories that readers are exposed to are fairy tales. These stories are usually set in faraway lands, are full of magic, and offer ways to survive in order to obtain that happily ever after. Various media still pay homage to these timeless tales through their modern adaptations. The Vampire of Maple Town by Kane McLoughlin continues this ever-lengthy tribute to these yarns, but it stands out by combining elements of both western and Japanese fairy tales and containing in-depth characters.
The Vampire of Maple Town tells the story of a 15-year vampire named Charlie. He is raised by the doctor and vampire widower, Vincent Prowl. After Charlie becomes a vampire, he is forced to sign a contact, stating that he has killed someone in their provincial home of Maple Town. Vincent keeps Charlie inside his mansion on Chiaroscuro Lane all day, yet when Charlie escapes one day, Vincent realizes that he will do anything to save him, even if that means destroying the entire town. McLoughlin has stated that this book is the first in a trilogy.
One thing that readers will notice while reading this book is that it gives nods to a lot of fairy tales. One can easily find elements of Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella, Beauty and the Beast, and most notably, Alice in Wonderland (I realize that that is technically not a fairytale, but for the sake of this story, it is). I cannot tell how many times that I found elements of that tale in it like the Mad Hatter Festival and stay with me, one of the main characters is named Alice! In addition, McLoughlin makes allusions to Japanese folk tales since he himself is half Japanese. These include Momotaro, or the Story of the Son of a Peach (the protagonists of both stories are 15-year old boys), The Goblin of Adachigahara (the protagonists are forbidden to go somewhere, but do so and experience consequences), The Mirror of Matsuyama (magical mirrors that reflect the past are involved in both stories), and The Story of the Man Who Did Not Wish to Die (both stories contain characters trying to avoid death and paper cranes that come to life) (Ozaki, 2019). I am sure that they are more tributes, but these are the ones that came up while I was doing my research. Both incorporations add more varied flavors to the story.
Another strong point of this novel is that the characters are well-developed. When reading, I knew exactly the motivations of the characters even if their actions can be reprehensible. For example, Vincent can come off as strict and violent at times (he even aggressively grabs Charlie’s neck at one point). On the other hand, he keeps Charlie in the mansion to protect him from the hate that the townspeople will express once they find out that the boy is a vampire. This allows the story to have more depth than the average fairytale.
The only thing that I would complain about is that I found the ending to be predictable. I will not spoil it, but it falls under the Cinema Sins quote, “’Character says he’s not going to do something before immediately doing that thing’ cliché” (2018).
Overall, The Vampire of Maple Town is a good debut. I would recommend this book to people who like vampires and in-depth characters as well as to the fairytale lovers. Readers will definitely get a kick out of the fairytale references and find themselves understanding characters even if they do not agree with their actions. I personally look forward to seeing what happens with Charlie in the subsequent novels.
CinemaSins. (2018, September 25). Everything Wrong With Shrek The Third In 16
Minutes Or Less [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ONNEvjH6iA
Ozaki, Yei Theodora. (2019). Retrieved from
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