Lynda Hilburn

Kismet Knight, Vampire Psychologist, Book 1

Jo Fletcher Books (2011)

ISBN: 9780857387196

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

The most interesting thing about this book is that it was originally self-published, apparently selling over 200,000 copies on Amazon before being picked up by the Jo Fletcher Books imprint of Quercus Publishing. I’m not too sure why they chose to do that – surely there are other, more interesting books out there that have not already reached a vampire-saturated market that Jo Fletcher could have taken on?

Kismet Knight (excuse me while I throw up a little at the name) is a moderately successful psychologist experiencing early career ennui – she has a solid practice, a nice apartment, and no social life, despite her oft-described attractiveness. Her only real relationship ended badly (and was pretty woeful anyway), and she’s almost ready to dip her toe in the dating waters again, at the same time seeking a new angle for her psychology to be revitalised by.

Enter vampires. Well, vampire wannabes at least. Kismet meets a patient who seems to wholeheartedly believe in the creatures of the night, and not only that, wants to become one. As a rational human, Kismet sees only the mental health issues associated with such a delusion, and considers this a perfect direction to focus her work on. Soon, however, Kismet finds herself meeting unusual people who do things she can’t quite justify. Oh, she tries hard (over and over and over) to explain away evidence that suggests vampires are actually real, but in the end, she has to admit that there is more to the world than she had ever imagined.

Look, essentially there’s nothing hideously wrong with this book. It just fell into all the traps awaiting the unwary in urban fantasy and paranormal romance – a heroine who is stunning but socially “awkward”, who doesn’t have a man (at least until the tall dark and brooding vampire comes into her life; then suddenly EVERYONE WANTS HER); an all-powerful ancient being who falls instantly in love with her; a *yawn* nightclub of vampires… Sound familiar? If you’ve ever read Charlaine Harris, you’ll know why. To be honest, The Vampire Shrink reads a lot like Sookie Stackhouse fan fiction – you could toss this lot into Bon Temps without having to change too much at all.

Basically, there’s not much originality about this novel – I think Hilburn has *tried* to subvert some of the very familiar tropes, but instead has fallen prey to them. Having said that, it’s not unreadable, and fans of the genre will probably enjoy it.