Drew Hayes

Books: Fantasy

Spells, Swords, & Stealth: NPCs (2014)

Fred, the Vampire Accountant: The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant (2014), Undeath & Taxes (2015), Bloody Acquisitions (2016), The Fangs of Freelance (2017), Deadly Assessments (2018), Undeading Bells (2019), Out of House and Home (2021), Posthumous Education (2022)

5-Minute Sherlock: The Case of the Damaged Detective (2020)

Spells, Swords, & Stealth

NPCs (2014)


What happens when the haggling is done and the shops are closed? When the quest has been given, the steeds saddled, and the adventurers are off to their next encounter? They keep the world running, the food cooked, and the horses shoed, yet what adventurer has ever spared a thought or concern for the Non-Player Characters?

This story was an utter delight. Which I should have expected, seeing as how much I love Fred, the Vampire Accountant.

Thistle, Eric, and Gabrielle are relaxing at Grumph's tavern when four adventurers come in, and the collapse at a table. The four locals soon discover the adventurers are dead, and that if no one shows up Solium in response to the king's summons, it's likely the Mad King will decide the town interfered with the summoned adventurers, and wipe out the entire town.

So the four decide to take the place of the adventurers and head to Solium themselves.

"All right then. Everyone sleep tonight, and say your goodbyes tomorrow. Grumph and I will move the corpses, then tend to our own farewells. Meet back here at this same time tomorrow night," Thistle told them. "We'll loot the bodies and be on our way."

This story is SO FUN.

Eric, are you better with a sword, or a bow?"

"Sword," Grumph grunted.

"He's right," Eric admitted. "Sword. When I was trying to learn the bow, I broke three of the windows on Grumph's tavern."

In addition to both celebrating and poking fun at gamers, it also has some rather astute commentary on the world in general.

With a sweep of his purple cape, King Liadon slid back into the shadows of the castle corridors, leaving a large group of adventurers wondering why a guard couldn't have just told them all that hours ago.

The characters were (unsurprisingly) wonderful, and (of course) turned normal D&D style adventuring on it's side, with the half-Orc being one of the more insightful characters.

"A broken barrel cannot be fixed unless mead is emptied. I don't know how to empty a person of Anger," Grumph admitted.

And the gnome being the wisest character.

"Just try to understand that sometimes it is better to see a thing destroyed, rather than ruined." Thistle hopped lightly along the path in hope of keeping up with his larger companions. It was a difficult proposition, but one he had managed for many years now.

I adore the way Drew Hayes takes what you expect from a fantasy story and turns it sideways, giving you something delightful.

Publisher: Thunder Pear Publishing

June 2020 | Rating: 8/10

Fred the Vampire Accountant

The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant (2014)

Often after finishing a book that I really enjoy, I am at a loss as to what I want to read next. Something completely and totally different typically works best.

This was perfect for that.

I recorded my journeys in the hopes that, should another being find themselves utterly depressed at the humdrum personality still saddling their supernatural frame, they might find solace in knowing they are not the only one to have felt that way.

Frederick the accountant was as surprised as anyone else to discover himself a vampire. He had none of the qualities one expects from pop culture as a vampire, and was, in fact quite happy being an accountant. So that's what he kept doing after being turned.

Even if he did enjoy some of the perks of being a vampire.

I was more than a minor klutz in my human days, so it was an enjoyable change to walk around without injuring myself.

Contrary to popular mythology, I neither sleep in a coffin, nor am I rendered powerless during the daytime. The difference between the two is that in the daytime I can sleep, which is an ability I lack under starlight. I don't have to, and in fact spent three weeks without any rest during last year's tax season;

This is a series of five novellas, woven into a single book.

It's also silly and utterly delightful.

"If they're so good, then why does anyone ever gamble with them?" I asked.

"Because they share their ancestor's weakness as well as their strength."

"They eat virgins?" Albert asked uncertainly.

"What? No. They can't resist a bet."

Fred ends up becoming friends with a number of other preternatural creatures, and they show the secret world to be just as varied as the real world.

I wondered if Bubba would need the number of a good mechanic to buff out the dents in his roof, then realized Bubba was the kind of person who was perfectly capable of fixing that himself.

Because friend dislikes violence and confrontation, and because he is honest and truly likes being an accountant, he is the exact opposite of every other vampire hero you've come across. Which is what makes the book so silly and fun.

If you're looking for something silly and fun, I highly recommend Fred, the Vampire Accountant.

Publisher: REUTS Publications

Undeath & Taxes (2015)

This is really five novellas making a single book, which is absolutely perfect IMO. Each of the stories within the book are a complete package all wrapped up, although with bit that carry from tale to tale.

Fred is a vampire. But before even that, he is an accountant. One who loves his job and is proud of his work.

Learning about the parahuman world, through virtue of my own death, hadn't been nearly as disturbing to me as learning there were whole sections of laws, tax codes, and deduction options for my kind.

He's also extremely honest.

I glanced at the clock and wrote down the time. It would be unethical to bill for accounting work when I was merely playing with Sally, so I had to chart when I went on and off the clock.

One of the strengths of these stories is that the secondary characters are just as developed as Fred–and they're also just as complicated as normal people.

"Fred," Richard called, greeting me from down the hall. He was in Sally's room, where he'd been almost exclusively since the kidnapping. The giant of a man was squatting down beside a plastic table, fake teacup clutched daintily in his hand and a gleaming plastic tiara perched atop his golden mane of hair.

Bubba spoke with the sort of twang one would expect from someone sporting such a moniker. His frame (massive, with ample muscle), wardrobe (Baseball caps, jeans, and flannel), and occupation (truck driver) also fit well within the bounds of appropriate stereotypes. These small conformities only highlighted the unexpected bits: his wisdom, gentleness, and unashamed homosexuality being a few examples.

I also like that although Fred is honest and steady and fond of sweater vests and proper behavior, he isn't (too) bothered by those around him who are not.

"What rule are you invoking for that one?" Arch asked.

"Section fifteen, paragraph twelve. It's the one titled ‘fuck you; it's happening because I say so.' Surprised you didn't know that one, Arch. Most agents invoke it all the time."

OK, he is embarrassed by public displays of affection, when they involve him. But that's a personality quirk as opposed to a judgment on someone else.

As I said about this first book, it's fun and silly, and was totally enjoyable to read.

Publisher: REUTS Publications

Bloody Acquisitions (2016)

This is the third Fred the Vampire Accountant book.

This is such a fun and silly series.

(I)n life my reaction speed was always somewhere between "abysmal" and "for the love of heaven don't let Fred hold anything too valuable."

The walk to the inn took around ten minutes, but it would have been five if Neil's slower gait hadn't caused everyone else to match his pace. Part of the comparative slowness was that he was one of the few humans in the group, magic-slinging skills notwithstanding, but it was also due to the fact that studying tomes of ancient magic wasn't an activity that did much for cardio.

A vampire clan has come to town, hoping to move into the area, which means Fred is probably in trouble, since he'll be seen as either a nuisance or a threat, so his friends do what they can to keep him safe.

Of course, they also get him into trouble, even if it's not on purpose.

"Lawyer said you might feel that way, so she got the Clover children to authorize an extra fee on top of what you usually charge, for the short notice," Bubba said.

"I can't imagine there's a number that would justify me tossing my entire schedule out the window for one unexpected client."

That sentiment lasted exactly as long as it took for Bubba to tell me the number.

"Then again, I suppose it couldn't hurt to at least take a look at the books," I said, backpedaling quickly.

As I said, this is a fun series and I'm enjoying the heck out of it.

Publisher: REUTS Publications

The Fangs of Freelance (2017)

The fourth Fred the Vampire Accountant book.

My name is Fredrick Frankford Fletcher, and I am an accountant by trade. Also, I'm a vampire. Yes, I probably should have led with that second bit, but to be honest, the accountant part factors far more frequently into my daily life than does my status as an Undead American.

Fred now has a clan, and is holding off the vampires who are displeased with him, but with that security comes more responsibility, and Fred has to live up to some of the promises he made. Namely, becoming a freelance accountant for the agency.

(I)t seemed all those with claim to the estate were either deceased or under arrest for, and again I'll quote the document, "crimes against the commonly agreed upon reality."

We do get to spend a little but of time with Richard and Gideon, and I particularly like Richard.

Richard Alderson, head of Winslow's therian tribe, host to the King of the West, and all-around imposing figure, pulled his minivan to a stop only a few feet away from Bubba's truck. When he popped the door and stood up, it made a little more sense. This minivan had been modified to accommodate his incredible size, as Richard towered over pretty much everyone and had so much muscle he'd have made every other participant in a bodybuilding competition immediately admit defeat. Then he yanked the sliding side door open, and the vehicle choice became a perfect fit. Because, above all the other things I listed already, Richard was a father, and minivans tended to have exceptional safety features.

That story is set in a defunct carnival, much of which I found extremely amusing.

Sure enough, there was the spinning ride Richard had mentioned. A surprisingly intact sign above the platform labeled it the "Lunch Thief," which was a name that both conveyed what it would do to those who rode and made me wonder who on earth would ever get on such a thing.

Actually, that story was one of my favorites, since it went in a completely unexpected direction.

This is a very fun series, and I highly recommend it.

Publisher: REUTS Publications

Deadly Assessments (2018)

I thought this might have been the last book in the series, but apparently he's writing another.

That's cool on multiple accounts. 1) I'm enjoying this series and wouldn't mind another book and 2) this book ended cleanly and I've have been content if there wasn't another book (AKA, no cliffhangers).

Fred has changed a lot since he became a vampire. And recent events have changed him even more, namely he has become head of his own house and has started working for the Agency.

Unfortunately, the house of Turva is really unhappy about Fred's choices, and has complained to the Blood Council, who have sent a vampire to judge Fred's fitness.

"Did the vampire give you a name?"

"She called herself Deborah," I said.

"So she can't be too old, at least. That seems like a fairly modern name."

"It's not. There were Deborahs in the Bible, Fredrick."

There are multiple great things about this book. First, we've seen Fred go and change over the series. He's still easily scared, and avoids confrontation if at all possible, but he also values his friends and his clan more than his own safety.

But this is also a problem.

"That, in my view, is your fundamental problem," Deborah continued. "You are kinder than you have the strength to be."

I like that Deborah helps Fred address those issues, and come to terms with learning how to use strength.

Plus there are just fun things.

Back before humans figured out it was toxic to them, they found ways to weave asbestos into all sort of things, clothing included. It's rudimentary protection, but we kept working on it even after they shied away. I don't think I own a single ensemble that doesn't have asbestos as a component.

THAT is genius. Of course vampires were wear asbestos clothing!

But we also get to see the other characters in the series growing and changing as well, and that's also lovely!

"We called for a ride while on our way here," Lillian told me. "Thought that after a night like this, nobody would want to sprint all the way home."

"Lillian, remind me of this at the next performance evaluation. You are clearly in need of a raise."

It's a fun series, and I'm glad there is going to be another book, but I am also glad that the books end cleanly so that if there wasn't another book, I wouldn't be angry.

Publisher: REUTS Publications

Undeading Bells (2019)

Undeading BellsIt's almost time: Fred and Krystal's wedding day is almost here!

Geez, Freddy, all those old movies you love, maybe work some classic action flicks in there occasionally. I'm more or less a parahuman secret agent and long-time loner on the verge of settling down with someone I really love, which means it feels like fate is just waiting for the chance to snatch it away.

But there's plenty to do before the big day arrives: choose a location and caterer in Boarback, hire a new assistant for Fred's accounting business, view a possible new venture for Amy, and have an unexpected adventure, all the while looking out for some of the enemies both Fred and Krystal have accumulated.

Couple things to note: it's finally noted that Sally is growing up. For a couple of books she either didn't appear or was seemingly in stasis, but she is now (I believe) a pre-teen. I still am kinda weirded out by Gideon in all of this, but I kinda think I'm supposed to be.

Additionally, although the story does not end on a cliffhanger, there are a lot of unresolved issues to deal with in the next book. Since he only seems to publish one Fred book a year, this is something you might want to be aware of.

But mostly it's just as lovely a romp as the previous books.

You've got a whole day to be anxious, so don't use it all up tonight. It's a marathon, not a sprint.

The punishment is annoying, not painful. Worse jobs, extra shifts, maybe a few weeks training with me if you've really pissed somebody off, but they're not going to hurt her. We still have an HR department.

If you haven't already discovered this series, don't start here. Go back to The Utterly Uninteresting and Unadventurous Tales of Fred, the Vampire Accountant and read your way forward. It's fun–what more could you want out of a story?

Out of House and Home (2021)

Out of House and HomeFred & Krystal are married. And although Krystal is paying for actions she took with a lot of cases that take her away for weeks at a time, they are still happy.

Much as I strive for transparency in these accounts, I'm afraid there will be no record of those next few hours, time that Krystal and I took for ourselves as a newly married couple.

Until someone decides to try and burn them out–destroying not just their home, but threatening the life of Charlotte.

Fred is–as always–a delight.

As someone who might be on this planet for hundreds of years to come, being eco-conscious seemed the only logical choice.

But there are a lot of other interesting and delightful bits, such the visit to the mall Gideon is debating rehabbing or selling.

Wasting no time, I spurred my frog onward, zooming toward Octavio at speeds that frankly made me a bit uncomfortable.

And I was fascinated by the choices Charlotte was given after her displacement, in a way I didn't expect to be.

"…I called you here to discuss the employment of Charlotte Manor."

The fake excuse took me a bit off guard. "Wait, what would we have to discuss? Is there an issue?"

"Only that her talents have been criminally underutilized. Charlotte has proven to not only be an incomparable assistant, she's been a great aid to Richard and Sally, not to mention a source of joy. I would happily offer her a permanent position in my employ; however, she is a member of the House of Fred, and therefore, I would need your permission."

Plus there are the little bits of life that get thrown in.

"My apologies for the presumption. I knew this only as Deborah's number."

"It is, but no one picks up their damn phones anymore unless they know the number."

As expected, this was another great addition to the series.

July 2021 | Rating: 8/10

Posthumous Education (2022)

Posthumous EducationFred, the Vampire Accountant, Book 8

This series remains a delight.

As usual there are five sections, each a full story but all intertwined.

An Unexpected Enrollment
An Eventful Guest Lecture
An Impromptu Field Trip
A Hectic Homecoming
The Commencement

That's right–Fred is going back to University. Hellebore is calling in her favor, and it's for Fred to become an interim professor at Trestlevend–a supernatural university.

One if the things I adore about this series are the little details that make Fred who he is. Like what would happen to his business while he was gone.

"I'm surprised you even want to step back."

"It's more that I have to, for the good of the company overall." I struggled to find the right words for my concerns. They were difficult to explain to anyone who hadn't been ground down by corporate structures. "We're getting too big. Big enough that hiring more employees alone isn't going to be a fix for much longer. I'm going to need people filling the same role as I do, taking on managerial positions. The more we expand, the less personal interactions I'll be able to have with each client, and that genuinely bothers me."

That is such an amazing and perfect Fred sentiment, yet (like Krystal) I ended up being taken by surprise as well.

And of course other characters make appearances, including Neil and Albert (who get into a mage duel), and even Deborah.

"Holy shit, who skinned Oscar the Grouch?"

To my near-shock, Deborah actually appeared a bit frightened by the suggestion. "Perish the thought. I avoid those things whenever possible. Some of us still remember the feral ones that used to roam wild."

Both Krystal and I stared at the intruding vampire, but it was my wife who found her voice first. "I really hate that I'm not sure if you're screwing with us or not."

It's another great book, and came out just when I needed it to pull me out of a slump.

December 2022 | Rating: 8.5/10

5-Minute Sherlock

The Case of the Damaged Detective (2020)

The man was found naked, dancing, in a warehouse full of corpses. The government has him, but there are other people who very badly want to get their hands on his brain. So to move him across the country, they give the job to a disgraced agent–his last opportunity to save his career.

I generally adore everything I've read by Drew Hayes, but this story just fell flat for me.

It's possible it wasn't as good as his other stories, but it's also possible I just really wasn't in the mood for this book at this time. After all, I kept reading. I just felt like I couldn't really get into the tale.

Probably was my mood; I'll try again later and see what my opinion is then.

October 2020 | Rating: 7.5/10