Relative Strangers by Helen Treharne
Published: August 23rd, 2014
Meet Sophie Morgan… practical, Welsh, prone to occasional profanity, and seemingly a vampire magnet.
Sophie Morgan is 23 and has always done the right thing. She’s caused no stress for her family, worked hard through university, has taken a successful leap onto the career ladder and nurtured a reasonably healthy bank balance. It’s no small surprise then when, on a post relationship break-up, mini-break to Antwerp, she pursues a pair of thieves who steal her friend’s handbag. But this is only the start of her world being turned upside down. Ripped from the streets into a dark alley she is violently attacked, barely alive when quirky Irish bar worker, Michael Kelly, stumbles across the scene.
The pair, shocked by their experience and uncertain whether they have killed her attacker in the brawl which follows, go into the night for answers. They get more than they bargained for. Sophie quickly learns that vampires exist, her neighbours back home aren’t what they seem and new boyfriends can be found in the strangest of situations.
Relative Strangers is the first in a new vampire series with a distinctly British flavour, but which will appeal to everyone. Reviews call it " a vampire tale with bite", with "brilliant characters that draw you in" and a very fresh take on the genre. Read it now to find out reviewers are raving about.
EXCERPT from Relative Strangers by Helen Treharne
It took a few seconds for me to hear the sounds of other footsteps running behind me. By then, I’d picked up the pace, heading down the cobbled road to an even darker side street. I don’t know why I picked the route I did, I think I just assumed that a robber would probably try to make off into a shadier part of town, literally and metaphorically. Tracy and I had established on our daytime wandering that there wasn’t much this way other than dodgy looking
restaurants and a few bars – the sort of place I assumed a thief would hang out.
I think that the fact I caught up with the thieves within a few minutes surprised me more than I legged it after them in the first place. I had no idea I could run so fast. They were also not what I expected. Okay, I wasn’t expecting striped jumpers and a bag on their shoulder labelled ‘swag’, but I wasn’t prepared for two well-groomed guys in blazers and fine knit sweaters either. They looked like they should have been extras on Miami Vice.
“Give me the bloody bag,” I shouted.
I don’t know if they were first-time opportunists or whether they were just taken back by a five foot nothing Welsh woman chasing after them, but they stopped in their tracks.
“Give me the fucking bag,” I repeated.
And blow me, didn’t blazer boy just hand the bag right back. I don’t know if it was the conviction with which I spoke, or the fact that Mickey had just about caught up with us.
“Wait there,” I ordered. I was surprisingly good at this.” Everything better still be in here.”
The two men stood completely still as I rummaged through the bag. Due to its size it took me a while to go through it, but my cursory inspection of the contents indicated that everything was there; everything that was important anyway. As I turned on my heel, I saw Mickey behind me, looking like a man who had experienced every sort of emotion all at the same time.
“Jesus, thank God you’re alright. What the hell were you thinking of?” he panted. “You’re a feckin' idiot.”
“It had her passport and everything in,” I retorted, slightly bemused by his question. I think my actions had even surprised me a little, but the shock was making me act like I’d behaved in the most reasonable way in the world.
After a successful career in business and career coaching, Helen Treharne returned to South Wales in 2010 to focus on writing, among other things.
Relative Strangers, a modern vampire story featuring an increasingly feisty Sophie Morgan, hits digital bookshelves in 2014. In addition to being the creator of the developing"Sophie Morgan" series, she is an urban poet and social commentator who can frequently be found ranting in the Twitterverse. She knew the degree in Sociology would come in handy some day!
Helen lives with her husband, three cats, an entrenched tea addiction and an increasing collection of stringed instruments.She can't be trusted near stationery.
This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.
Sophie Morgan is your average young woman who, while on a girl's holiday to Antwerp to get over her idiot ex, stumbles into the dark world of vampires.
This book has been on my reading list since it came out. It ticks all the boxes and sounds amazing. An arse-kicking Welsh heroine, vampires, and by a fellow British writer. Yes please!
In the end, there were things that I loved, and some things I just didn't get.
Sophie is brilliant. I loved her reaction to the fact that vampires are real. In a refreshing change to girls fluttering their eyelashes at super-hot-vamps, Miss Morgan opts for picking up the nearest potential weapon and doing as much damage as she can. She then takes a remarkably sensible option of steering very clear of danger, whilst training to be fitter and stronger, just in case danger doesn't keep its distance from her.
She is scarily good at protecting herself, and not afraid to push past the squeamish and get her hands dirty.
In Relative Strangers, vampires are at no point romanticised. Sure, they have a grace and beauty about them when they choose it, but when it gets down to it they show their true nature. They are monsters that are driven by blood and pain. With possibly a few sophisticated exceptions, vampires need to be killed, before they have a chance to kill.
It is again, a refreshing reminder that these are monsters and supposed to be the bad guys.
What I wasn't so sure about was the overall plot arc of the story. It felt like it was going for something much more contemporary, a day-to-day life experience for Sophie, who just happens to get involved in the world of vampires along the way. Which, ok, may be what Treharne was going for, but for most of the book it didn't feel like it was building towards anything in particular. It was more like being a fly on the wall in Sophie's life as she makes certain decisions and wallows on previous friendships and choices made, where you feel as ignorant to the bigger picture as Sophie does.
I will say that it does improve around the 70% mark, when the action and danger starts to lean towards something much bigger and more mysterious. The last 30% of the book flew by, leaving me with a lot of questions.
I don't know whether it was just the Netgalley copy that I received (and if it is, let me know and I'll remove this section), but I felt it needed tidying up. There were sentences that had clearly been edited, but not rechecked and didn't make sense." And the speech marks were driving me crazy. "The reviewer sighed.
The last little niggle I had was with Tracy. The girl you dragged on holiday gets "mugged", is covered with blood, and possibly concussed; and you think it's ok to leave her with some people you hardly know so you can shag the sexy musician?!
I know it was necessary to get her out of the way for that part of the plot to move forwards, but that had me fuming for ages!
So overall, I would recommend you give it a go. It's not the most fast-paced, but there's a lot of world-building that goes on that I think will lead to something pretty epic in the sequel(s).