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The Blue Moon Café / Rick R. Reed 

Amber Quill Press / March 2010
Reviewed by: Derek Clendening

There is some debate among horror professionals today about whether or not paranormal romance rightly constitutes horror. This reviewer generally argues that it doesn’t, but The Blue Moon Café by Rick R. Reed helps to bridge the gap between the two camps. Thad Matthews, a young gay man residing in Seattle, takes the chance to spice up his love life when he meets Sam, a sexy Italian restaurateur and proprietor of the titular eatery. Their blossoming romance is juxtaposed against a rash of brutal killings within Seattle’s gay community, with all signs pointing to a wolf-like perpetrator. When a new acquaintance of Thad’s mysteriously disappears, questions and uncertainties about Sam’s nocturnal whereabouts rise along with the body count.

The Blue Moon Café begs the question of whether or not an LGBT-themed novel can be enjoyed by a mainstream or genre audience. Reed offers his audience a completely relatable, authentic protagonist in Thad Matthews — recently unemployed, single, and jerked around in the romance department on more than one occasion like so many of all sexual orientations. He then meets Sam who is handsome, sophisticated and an iron man beneath the sheets, and yet he still seems unable to catch a break. Not all novels come with as readymade a sympathetic character as Thad Matthews, and Reed deserves props for the character’s universal appeal. Still, some of the book’s particulars about a gay man’s life or the passive (but perfectly acceptable) use of lingo might be less inviting for a mainstream audience.

Regarding the plot itself, Reed simply gives away too much too soon. While he veers away from the beaten path to some extent, the plot does not take a sufficient enough twist to leave the reader with the sense of shock or awe that it had the potential to. The end twist is fairly predictable. Some books do give away a generous chunk of information in advance because it is integral to the storytelling, but this is not one of those books. Depending on why a reader has chosen to open this book in the first place, its predictability may be either entirely forgivable or completely off-putting – but it will depend upon the reader’s expectations. That said, Reed brilliantly pours the much of society’s lingering hatred and bigotry toward gays into the werewolf metaphor, giving lycanthrope fiction a refreshing spin.

The Blue Moon Café is a novel with some potential to appeal to a larger audience, but ultimately the appeal may be limited to the LGBT or paranormal romance reader. The novel may be less enticing for, say, readers of Leisure or St. Martin’s harder-core horror novels, who have come to expect a grittier, gorier story they can sink their teeth into. Still, because the novel is more accomplished than much of the work published by smaller press paranormal romance, The Blue Moon Café is deserving of a read under the light of the next full moon.

Purchase The Blue Moon Café by Rick R. Reed

Posted on Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 09:41AM by Registered CommenterDark Scribe Magazine in | Comments Off

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