BREATHING NEW LIFE INTO THE VAMPIRE MYTHOS.
Will wonders never cease? A book series aimed at women, that even us male readers can enjoy without embarrassment.
There is one particular sub-genre within the pantheon of fantasy and science fiction literature that I generally don’t read very often. The said sub-genre being Paranormal Romance. Despite superficial similarities with the related Urban Fantasy sub-genre (which I do read frequently), I have always viewed PNR as inherently unfriendly to male readers. Ideally, I would prefer not to be drawn into an argument as to whether or not this viewpoint is a fair one. The intent of this post is to highlight the one PNR series that I feel really bucks this trend.
The exceptionally good, Black Dagger Brotherhood series, by J.R. Ward (the pen name of Jessica Bird) is one of the very few PNR series that I feel is equally as accessible to male readers as it is for the books’ female target demographic. The long running series follows the trials of the members of the Black Dagger Brotherhood, a society of vampire warriors charged with protecting their kind from extermination. Their adversary being, the Lessening Society; an Order of soulless humans, turned slayers, created to eradicate all vampires on behalf of The Omega.
Not only is the Black Dagger Brotherhood unquestionably the outstanding series of the genre, it is the only one that I have no qualms about recommending to other male readers. (Which is high praise considering I have read books from several other series that I would be very reluctant to admit to reading, let alone recommend). Nor am I embarrassed to acknowledge that I am a fan of the series and the author. Although I’m glad I can purchase the books online rather than in store; those titles and covers are clearly designed to attract female readers.So what does the Black Dagger Brotherhood do right that most other PNR series do wrong? Well, first of all, and most importantly, Ward never sacrifices telling a great story in favour of focussing entirely on the romance between the protagonists. She has successfully managed to strike a perfect balance where most other authors seemingly prefer to allow all the romance elements to completely overshadow the plot; assuming there is a plot to begin with.
Secondly, what really elevates Ward’s books above every other series I’ve come across is the wonderful mythology she has built for the series. Vampires have been done to death in numerous books, in several genres, but the Black Dagger Brotherhood really does bring something new and unique to the table. Not to mention the genuinely compelling and complex cast of characters that Ward has created.
As I have thus far only made it as far as book five of the series, I cannot comment on whether the author has managed to maintain the high quality of writing and storytelling throughout the twelve books that have been published to date. But given that Ward is one of the best writers I’ve had the pleasure to read, I have no worries in this regard.
If you are a reader (male or female), who has an aversion to reading Paranormal Romance, take my word for it that the Black Dagger Brotherhood series is well worth checking out. So please don’t be put off by the titles of the books, or the artwork that adorn the covers.
Shining a spotlight on those books, series, authors and publishers most deserving of more attention, and a wider audience of readers.