A Zephyr Hollis Novel, #1

It’s the 1920s in New York city and Zephyr Hollis is working hard at doing good. She works as a social activist during the day and teaches classes to immigrants at night. She seldom has a free hour but she’s happy with her life. To many she’s know as the vampire suffragette due to her beliefs that vampires are due the same rights and privileges as humans.

However, during this time of prohibition, rum flows freely. Rinaldo is the main supplier. He also controls the Turn Boys, a group of teens who were turned into vampires too young. Everyone knows that turning someone too young leads to disaster.

When Zephyr is approached by a good looking man to locate Rinaldo, Zephyr is concerned. She would have turned him down except she needs the money for rent. Can she locate Rinaldo before her time limit is up or will she end up dead? It doesn’t help that she finds herself attracted to this good looking guy, Amir but wait until she finds out that he’s not exactly human!

This story ties history with some paranormal aspects making it intriguing. Much of the story reflects beliefs and values of the 1920s from that new Negro music, jazz, to women breaking into jobs that had been traditionally male. To this known history, Ms Johnson adds a unique and interesting twist, vampires and Others. Is that guy asking you into a dark corner to neck or to have your neck?

The characters are varied but well thought out. Zephyr is from a family that destroys vampires so it baffles her family on why she wants to work with them. Though she is living far from her family home, Montana, she still retains many of her family’s values. She also is a vegetarian which most people think is strange. Zephyr’s roommate, Aileen goes from being a good time girl to one that sees visions, and not only the ones she wants. Amir is complex and has a uniqueness about him. He is the youngest in his family and enjoys playing on Earth with humans. However, he doesn’t always realize the consequences of his actions and doesn’t always have the power to correct what he’s messed up. The other characters from the Turn Boys to Zephyr’s students to her landlady to whomever are just as well thought out as the main characters.

The descriptions of New York during this era brought the city to life. It’s crowded and loud and corrupt and alive. Zephyr gets around town on a bicycle and as it’s winter slides around on the ice which according to her can be fun. Tenements are crowded and people are uneasy around those that are different. Zephyr isn’t upper class but every now and then she gets to visit it and the contrast between where she is and where they are is stark.

I enjoyed this book. I liked reading about a era that many people forget about, that time after WWI and before the depression. I found it festinating to see how Ms Johnson added that element of paranormal to the normal world and she did a great job. Zephyr is such a unique character that you can’t wait to see what she says or does next. She even remembers that she need to do her laundry but only after she runs out of clean clothes.

For something with a bit different twist, but still with a romantic background, this story is it. It doesn’t end with a happy ever after ending, yet. Instead, Zephyr is ready for more adventures while she’s trying to make changes in one of the largest cities in the world. Personally, I’d like to read along to see what she tackles next.

Book Blurb for Moonshine

Imagining vampires at the heart of the social struggles of 1920s, Moonshine blends a tempestuous romance with dramatic historical fiction, populated by a lively mythology inhabiting the gritty New York City streets

Zephyr Hollis is an underfed, overzealous social activist who teaches night school to the underprivileged of the Lower East Side. Strapped for cash, Zephyr agrees to help a student, the mysterious Amir, who proposes she use her charity worker cover to bring down a notorious vampire mob boss. What he doesn’t tell her is why. Soon enough she’s tutoring a child criminal with an angelic voice, dodging vampires high on a new blood-based street drug, and trying to determine the real reason behind Amir’s request—not to mention attempting to resist (often unsuccessfully) his dark, inhuman charm.

Night Owl Reviews Sep, 2010 4.50