Bloodlust & Bonnets
by Emily McGovern
September 17, 2019 · Andrews McMeel Publishing
Well this was just…neat! Bloodlust and Bonnets is a graphic novel in which a bloodthirsty Regency ingenue named Lucy teams up with Byron the poet and Sham, a vampire hunter, to fight vampires. The fact that Byron never seems to understand what’s going on, Sham is always lost, and Lucy would actually like to BE a vampire confuses the matter immensely, leading to hijinks and an amazing amount of red ink.
At the start of the book, Lucy is exchanging chit chat with an older gentleman when she is suddenly seized with an urge to lop off his head as well as the heads of several surrounding gentleman. A woman shows up out of nowhere and congratulates Lucy on being “an ideal candidate to join…my secret ancient immortal vampire cult!” Just then Byron appears (“It is I! Lord Byron! You know…from books!”), and he helps Lucy slaughter the woman (but not really as she reappears in our story later on) as well as many more people (all of whom were actually vampires all along) and then Byron and Lucy fly to Byron’s magic castle on the back of his eagle, Napoleon. Thus concludes the five page long prologue. Got all that?
The mysterious woman is Lady Violet Travesty. She pops up in Byron’s castle none the worse for wear and tells Lucy again that Lucy has “unique potential” Lucy is 100% down with joining the secret ancient immortal vampire cult, but once again Byron dispatches Lady Travesty (again, temporarily). With Byron convinced that this woman has it in for him, and Lucy secretly determined to join the cult, they go looking for Lady Violet’s home turf and meet up with Sham, a vampire hunter who is also after Lady Travesty. Other characters include but are not limited to Byron’s rival, Sir Walter Scott, and Lady Violet’s rival, Countess Gladys De Harridan, and Gwendolyne, the local succubus.
At one point Lucy says, “It all started out so simply! Now I’ve got no idea who’s doing what or why..I’m so confused…” I hear you, Lucy. I hear you.
Author and artist Emily McGovern has a distinctive art style. Her characters are a lot like Funko Pops – they have dots for eyes and (usually) no noses or mouths. It’s amazing how much expression McGovern gets out of this art style, which makes lavish use of body language and an occasional eyebrow. It’s an acquired taste but I did grow to appreciate it by the end of the book. I love the beautifully colored backgrounds, which emphasize the expansiveness and gothic scope of the story.
This will be a love it or hate it book. First of all there’s the art style which takes some getting used to it. Fans of My Life as a Background Slytherin will already be used to it since it’s written by the same author. Then there’s the general tone which I of course adored with all the force of my nature. Others may dismiss it as silly. Pifff upon them. Nothing that features an eagle that speaks French and Lord Byron sleeping with rag curlers in his hair and begging for attention can possibly be too silly for me. It’s a very fun satire of gothic Regency suchness. There’s also a sweet sort-of romance between Lucy and Sham, the colors are gorgeous and everything bizarre and ridiculous that can happen does.
This book is silly fun. If you like to make fun of Lord Byron (which I do), engage in some literary vampire-slaying (same), poignantly reflect on how very much we all want to be special (oh, shut up), hear some witty dialogue, and see some good Regency Lesbian Flirting then you’ll enjoy this. My only complaint is that I cannot access a sequel RIGHT NOW.