Day Boy is a dark and dusty dystopian tale following a year in the life of Mark, a Day Boy, living in a regional Australian town ruled by The Masters. Following in the bloody footsteps of The Passage by Justin Cronin and The Quick by Lauren Owen it is a literary vampire novel in which the V-word is never mentioned, not in the blurb on the back and hardly, if ever, between the covers–for fear, I think that the V-word may frighten away less adventurous readers influenced by the anti-vampire prejudice arising from the Twilight Saga.
But at the fingertips of a gifted writer there will always be new and interesting takes on the vampire tale and happily, Day Boy is one of them. Trent Jamieson takes the vampire genre into never-before-seen territory in building a near pre-industrial world a few generations after a vampire world war (World War V?) has wiped out most of the humans and left the surviving ones in an uneasy but symbiotic servitude.
Mark and the other Day Boys in the small town of Midfield are the servants to their Masters. By day, protecting their lairs while they sleep, running errands and mowing the lawns of their Masters’ victims and sleeping at night while the vampires prowl and bicker amongst themselves. When one is practically immortal petty feuds grow to be monsters in their own right, and just as dangerous.
Mark is fortunate in his Master, although he does not always appreciate this. Trent’s tale brings the reader into this strange almost father and son, or magician and apprentice relationship. In this dangerous world where doing the right thing is no longer possible a brutal education must be given. There are lessons the young must learn if they are to survive. Unfortunately they are not always the lessons they want, or need, when they are children. It is a fine teacher who can couch these cruel lessons in some semblance of kindness. Dain, Mark’s Master tried to do this and sometimes succeeded.
There is however a similarity in the dialogue of almost all the protagonists. They speak with a philosophical poetry which sounds more like the writers voice than the character’s. And there were turns of phrase which jarred in their cleverness and distracted me from the story. “And the floorboards creak her passage away,” for instance
That said, I can highly recommend Day Boy to any reader who wants to read something off the beaten track. It is at times touching, at times frightening and always interesting. The ideas are fresh and new and by the end of the novel there is still so much left to be said. Day Boy could be the opening novel to a sting of novels set in this world. The rebels in the Red City; the Council of Teeth deep within the Shadow of the Mountain; the Night Train and the end of the line; the vast forests where the cold children play; or the Auditors roaming the outback like gunslingers in a Spaghetti Western. If another book came out I would read it.