By now, long-term readers of this blog have probably figured out that Diary of a Wimpy Vampire: Prince of Dorkness is the sequel to Diary of a Wimpy Vampire, which I reviewed a few weeks ago, and that therefore any substantive review of this book would merely reiterate the comments I made about this precursor. (The rest of you’ve likely decided that I’m a gasbag with a WordPress blog…) This installment of Nigel Mullet’s adventures is as humorous, humanistic and enjoyable as the first. Besides that, the rest of this post is just going to be me babbling about the few thoughts this book inspired within me.
I’d like to direct your gaze to the illustrations on the cover. These were drawn by Andrew Pindar, who draws all the pictures for the Wimpy Vampire series with the exception of the cover of the first book. His pictures suit the text perfectly and provide that extra dose of characterization you can’t get from prose. Nigel’s family, particularly his slightly obese father and bushy-haired younger sister, benefit from this extra detail. I’ve done some Googling on Tim Collins and he seems to have done a few books with Andrew Pindar, so it’s looking like an Andy Griffiths/Terry Denton deal. A lasting partnership between an author and illustrator can greatly benefit both parties and strengthen the work they produce – just look at the fantastic Edge Chronicles that were written by Paul Stewart and drawn by Christopher Riddell.
Nigel Mullet is a mostly immortal vampire who’s been switching schools for most of the twentieth century, giving him a slightly difference perspective on teenage cultures than his school peers. The main example of this occurred as he watches a couple of nerds mumble their way through Monty Python’s parrot sketch at a school talent show, reflecting as he does so that it was actually funny when he first watched it in the sixties. Another is his reaction to his younger sister’s fascination with Justin Beiber, and how she reacted the same way to Elvis and nineties boybands. At times Mullet comes across as more of a middle-aged man in a teenager’s body than an eternal teenager, but within this context that’s okay.
My favourite character in this whole series is Nigel’s younger sister, Mavis. In terms of temperament she’s almost the exact opposite of Nigel; he is a self-pitying sook while her irrepressible insouciance would test the patience even of a Spongebob Squarepants. This confidence grants her the full range of vampire powers that Nigel can only access during the rare moments when he feels good about himself. So she gets superhuman strength and speed, and while her claims of telepathy are proved false I’m fairly sure that they foreshadow something. For such an interesting character, Mavis doesn’t get the attention she deserves. Maybe she could be the protagonist in a spin-off for younger readers.
The Wimpy Vampire series has earned itself a place on my List of Birthday Gifts for Nieces and Nephews Whose Names I Can Remember, alongside Noisy Outlaws, Unfriendly Blobs, And Some Other Things. I’d recommend it for any teenager going through a vampire craze, young Discworld fans and those people who are secretly ashamed of enjoying paranormal romance.