In Knuckle Supper, we’re introduced to underground gang life in Los Angeles. However, these are not the gangs you might expect. These are vampire gangs, but not the neck biting kind of vampire. It’s more the rip-off-an-appendage-and-drink-from-it kind. Unlike most vampires, it’s not blood they crave the most; it’s drugs.
RJ is the leader of the Knucklers and it’s his story we are following. He’s not your typical image of a suave vampire. He looks and smells like a junkie – wiry and unhealthy. The Knucklers drug of choice is heroin. The gang feed on the street lowlifes who won’t be missed. While relieving a pimp of his head, RJ encounters a 12 year old prostitute, Bait. He takes her in, going against the popular opinion of the rest of the gang.
So what we have is a strange buddy story between RJ and Bait. Despite the bizarre circumstances that surround them, it’s quite heartwarming. Bait is deeply sarcastic, worldly, and innocent at the same time. This is despite the trauma that drove her to her current situation and the bloodshed that surrounds her. Unfortunately to RJ, she is not through her own fault, a heap of trouble.
The author brings us an extremely colourful underground world with multiple gangs. The distinct look of each gang reminded me of The Warriors. The personalities of many of the individual gang members are just as unique and colourful. There is a good deal of dark humour too. There are also changes to the traditional vampire lore. They are more grounded. They can’t turn people into vampires, and sunlight is a mild allergy. RJ’s decision to take in Bait costs him some friendships, and along with some less than wise business decisions, unbalances the delicate gangland status quo. From then on, it’s about how can RJ get out of the situation he created in one piece.
Despite the undead nature of most of the characters, this is a story that has some heart to go along with the gore and violence. There is still plenty of that – don’t worry. As the story progresses, things get very messy in unexpected ways and there are plenty of twists and turns. It’s a chaotic theme park ride and a lot of fun.
Reviewed by Andrew Tadman @thebooksofblood