Tag Archives: J.R. Rain

Mistimed Meal: A Review of Vampire Fly

Book cover for Vampire Fly: A Samantha Moon Story by J.R. Rain. Image on cover is a closeup photo of a large, green fly sitting on a white surface. Title: Vampire Fly – A Samantha Moon Story

Author: J.R. Rain

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: September 4, 2022

Genres: Fantasy, Contemporary

Length: 28 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 4 Stars


She’s a horsefly who bit the wrong person—and now something very strange is happening to her.

Something very, very strange.

Not only can she fly faster and see further than ever before, but she has a weird craving for blood.

Her crazy new life has just begun.

That is, until she gets caught in a sticky web and stalked by a massive spider… a spider that’s about to get the surprise of its life…


Content Warning: A vampiric horsefly, insects eating each other, and an insect pregnancy and birth.

Flies have feelings, too.

Mr. Rain did an excellent job of exploring the logical conclusions of a horsefly accidentally becoming a vampire. Not only was this an imaginative story, it spent a lot of time digging into what horseflies might think and feel as they go about their usual business looking for food and, in this case, a safe place to lay their eggs. The vampiric twist to what should have been a pretty ordinary day only made everything even more interesting as the ecosystem is not exactly set up for a horsefly that is much stronger, faster, and more resilient than any other member of its species has ever been before. This opportunity to get a glimpse into the mind of a creature so unlike humans is one of the many reasons why I adore xenofiction, and this was a very good example of what that micro-genre can do.

I found myself wishing for more details about what happened to the horsefly’s babies. For example, did they inherit her supernatural abilities? Would future generations of this family be little vampires as well, or were her babies sterile like most human versions of this monster are? There was so much more the narrator could have done with this subplot, and I would have gone with a full five-star rating if a few additional paragraphs had been included that explained what their fates might have been.

With that being said, I did enjoy the ending quite a bit. The main character had been hurt by a spider in a previous scene, but many of the assumptions I’d made about what might happen next were turned on their heads in the most marvellous manner.  I must tip my cap to the author for pulling this piece in the direction he did. It has piqued my interest in what else might be going on in this universe and made me wonder if this is only the tip of the creative iceberg. As much as I wish I could go into more detail about the last few scenes, I don’t want to spoil anything for other readers as it was a great deal of fun to be surprised by what happened.

This is part of a series, but no prior knowledge of that world is necessary in order to understand what is happening here.

Vampire Fly was a memorable tale that made me curious to read more.

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A Review of When Sam Met Santa and Other Stories

Book cover for When Sam Met Santa by Samantha Moon by J.R. Rain. Image on cover shows Santa flying in his sleigh pulled by reindeer against a full moon.Title: When Sam Met Santa and Other Stories

Author: J.R. Rain

Publisher: Self-Published

Publication Date: November 12, 2020

Genres: Fantasy, Holiday, Contemporary

Length: 43 pages

Source: I received a free copy from the author.

Rating: 3 Stars



Santa’s surprise visit, a backroom deal, a rare map, and someone’s been really, really bad. Five holidays tales, including an all-new Samantha Moon short story!

“When Sam Met Santa” – When Santa Claus shows up at Samantha Moon’s door, it’s hardly the strangest thing that’s ever happened to her. What happens next, however, is another story…

Also included:

“The Santa Call” – After accidentally forgetting his wife at home during a weekend getaway, ol’ St. Nick returns to discover she’s left him. At wit’s end, Santa turns to a radio talk show for some much needed love advice. But will he win Mrs. Claus back in time to save Christmas?

“The Deal” – Where does Santa get his coal for all those stockings? You’re about to find out.

“The Christmas Map” – Purchased from eBay, one young adventurer is about to discover if this map really does lead to Santa’s village.

“Santa Snitch” – Sometimes the Big Guy has to step in to deal with those who grow up to be really, really bad…


Content Warning: Life-threatening illness in a child, and a small amount of blood in one story.

Since the blurb already provided brief descriptions of every stories, I’ll stick to sharing my impressions of them in this review. The interesting thing about “When Sam Met Santa” was how it turned many common beliefs about Santa – among other magical beings – on their head. It reminded me of how gossip can take a sliver of truth about someone and wildly distort it into something that is all but unrecognizable in the end. Of course humans would do this to Santa, too!

“The Santa Call” was a humorously accurate snapshot of radio culture and advice programs. Regardless of how you feel about that sort of entertainment, it was well done.  I liked the brusque manner of the Love Doctor as well as how Santa responded to him when he refused to help. The deep dive into Santa’s personal life and problems with his wife and elves was also worth reading.

Mr. Rain tends to write pretty dialogue-heavy stories, and this technique worked especially well in “The Deal.” It involved a conversation between a buyer who urgently needed more coal and a seller who quickly grew more mystified by the details their client was providing. Due to how short this one was, I can’t say much else about it without giving away spoilers other than to note I wish more details had been included as there was a lot more the author could have done with such a concept.

Anything can be bought online, and if you’re a character in “The Christmas Map” it might even be the real deal! I appreciated the fact that the author was willing to write such naive and selfish characters for this one. Those were exactly the personality traits needed to take the Christmas map seriously and try to see if the village drawn on it really existed. With that being said, I did find myself wishing more time had been spent exploring why these characters behaved this way and what might have happened to them in the past to explain it. Not having that information made it harder for me to connect with them than I would have liked to see.

Can I give “Santa Snitch” a little extra credit for using the name Earl for its protagonist? That name is sorely underused in modern fiction in my opinion, and it gives me a thrill every time someone decides to use it. As everyone knows, only good kids receive toys on Christmas Eve. This tale expounded on that idea by introducing readers to a man who had been on the naughty list for many years. This was the darkest instalment in the collection, and I only wish more time had been spent developing  Earl’s backstory and explaining why he was in such big trouble.

When Sam Met Santa and Other Stories was a gentle, playful look at Santa lore.

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