This review contains mild spoilers.
For the Masters, who were once human, are now practically immortal. They rule a world that bends to their will, and feed on the townsfolk, who are their friends and neighbours.
But as Mark grows older, his time in Dain’s service is drawing to a close. When he is told to pack for a journey to the city, he knows he must be ready to confront the central choice of his life. Man—or monster?
It took me a while to get into this book. While the concept was interesting, I couldn’t connect to Mark for nearly half the book. I had trouble placing his age and couldn’t tell if he was acting mature or immature. The only thing about which I was certain was that Mark was a bit of an arrogant shit.
And then something happened. There’s a scene during Mark’s time in the city, where he meets with the Council of Teeth, and I was hooked. The language seemed to transform into something darker and more alluring, and I actually cared what happened to Mark. I was on his side. After that, the rest of the book flew by. I even found myself tearing up during one of the more emotional scenes between Mark and his friend Anne.
The world-building is sparse but effective. The blurb on Goodreads says that Day Boy is set in a ‘post-traumatic future’, which is better than any description I could offer you. The world has indeed suffered a traumatic event: the Masters assuming power. I assumed from the beginning that the book was set in some kind of fictional/alternate world until Mark made brief reference to mobile phones, road systems, the internet, and how those things didn’t exist anymore. Those few comments give you a whole new understanding of the way this world works.
Though this is a vampire story, the word ‘vampire’ is never actually used. The understanding of the Masters relies purely on prior knowledge of supernatural tropes, yet Trent Jamieson makes sure to add his own flair to the vampire mythology and walks the fine line of creating humanly inhuman creatures.
I feel like I can’t really talk about any of the plot without giving away spoilers but the climax is out of this world. I was on the edge of my seat; I was torn between cheering for Mark and covering my face with genuine worry. Everything that happened in that sequence of events more than made up for my slow connection with the book.
Slow to start, Day Boy evolves into a truly stunning piece of fiction. I find vampires fascinating but I had given up on seeking out the stories after one too many insta-love stories. There’s none of that here and Trent Jamieson manages to create something creepy, beautiful, and mesmerising.
I rate it ★★★★