Mike Reyes, aka Mr. Controversy, has considered himself a writer ever since he was a child. He wrote for various school publications from about 1995 until 2006, and currently runs both The Bookish Kind and Mr. Controversy, which is an offshoot of the regular column he wrote in High School. He's also authored several short stories such as "The Devil's Comedian", "The Devil v. George W. Bush", and most recently "Wait Until Tomorrow". He resides in New Jersey. Any inquiries for reprinting, writing services, or general contact, should be forwarded to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Vamp-O-Rama 3/5: "Vampire Zero: A Gruesome Vampire Tale" by David Wellington
It's been a while, hasn't it? Never fear, Vamp-O-Rama is back and so far the streak of vampire books that don't suck continues. In addition, I'm trying something new with this entry, so bear with me if the layout looks a little weird. Now that Amazon has this neat "Amazon Associates" program, you can click on the hyperlink I'll be providing for the book's title in order to research/buy it on Amazon.com. In exchange, I'll be handsomely (or meagerly, depending on how many of you click and buy) rewarded with Amazon.com gift cards. Why? So I can buy more books to review and advertise. It's not selling out if you're endorsing it to begin with. On with the show. By the end of Vampire Zero: A Gruesome Vampire Tale, the book has more than lived up to its sub-header. Indeed, a serious amount of blood and violence is to be had when reading this story that plays out more like a police procedural that just happens to have vampires in it. (Think CSI crossed with 30 Days of Night, and you have a vague idea of what to expect.)
The third in the Laura Caxton series, we find our protagonist mourning the death of her partner Jameson Arkeley, after he gives himself over to "the curse" of vampirism in order to save Laura's life during a horrific vampire battle at Gettysburg. Her mourning is short lived as a string of crimes involving the dearly not-so departed former U.S. Marshall's new found vampiric pride begin to occur. Confession time: I haven't read 13 Bullets or 99 Coffins: A Historical Vampire Tale, the two books that precede this tale in the timeline, but I feel I must attempt to do so at some point in the future, because I can sense the character development of Ms. Caxton being present, I just don't have the context to fully appreciate it. It is clear though that Laura has evolved into more of a hard edged vampire hunter, following in her mentor's footsteps as she tries to find them on the path of destruction and bloody personal business he's laid before her.
While this book tended to be a bit slow in comparison to the previous two entries in this marathon I've been running, I enjoy the fact that there was more of a procedural detective story element about the novel. If you really looked at it the right way, you could even call it Silence of the Lambs...with Vampires, because Caxton feels eerily close to Clarice Starling in both her Blue Collar roots and her dogged determination. (Plus the mentor/predator relationship between her and Arkeley is undeniably shaded similar to the Clarice/Hannibal relationship from the Harris novels.)
In terms of unique additions to the vampire mythos, there are two particularly interesting new ones: the process of conversion (you have to commit suicide before becoming a vampire, and that's after direct eye contact and a one day waiting period) and the upkeep of a vampiric lifestyle (you can still age if you don't feed). Both devices help the story break away from the typical "invincible and patient" vampire cliches. These aren't armchair strategists, they're vicious and impatient fuckers that'll use any means (and an army of "half dead" minions) to get your blood. Filled with a healthy amount of detective work, personal intrigue, and bloody carnage; Vampire Zero is not a waste of time. The key is to go in expecting a more realistic, more atmospherically heavy vampire book; as opposed to the more stylized horror you're used to.
Only two more books remaining in Vamp-O-Rama!
1. The Strain by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
2. The Nymphos of Rocky Flats by Mario Acevedo
3. Vampire Zero by David Wellington
4. Bloodsucking Fiends by Christopher Moore
5. Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter by Seth Grahame-Smith