Things that go bump (and gush blood) in the night

A post in which I offer up that rare and elusive thing:  a book review.

DRACULAS

A Novel by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn (aka JA Konrath), Jeff Strand, F. Paul Wilson

If you don’t like books with terror and blood and gore and violence and dark irreverent humour and taut seamless writing, this book is not for you. Honestly? It’s not for me either. This will not come as a surprise revelation to regular readers of this blog. I don’t usually read horror fiction. I don’t enjoy being terrorized. I’ve raised two kids to quasi-adulthood — I don’t need more fear in my life or another reason to lie awake in bed at night, worrying.

But when Konrath(Kilborn) said he and three of his writer friends had written a book about vampires, who are usually amusing or sparkly or just plain ridiculous rather than scary — um, vampires that is, not his writer friends — I thought, hey, how bad could it be?

I seriously underestimated these guys.

Easy to do, since I don’t read horror and had never heard of these other people. Um, well sure, of course I’d heard their names. Ahem. Of course I had. But I thought maybe I recognized them from the FBI’s Most Wanted List or something. The awesome cover wasn’t much help, even with proper punctuation added:

“Crouch, Kilborn. DRACULAS! Strand Wilson.”

Turns out they’re all talented writers and the cover copy is a listing of last names and not a cryptic directive to Kilborn about how to survive the vampire apocalypse. Who knew.

But I digress.

One of the reasons I don’t read horror is that my slightly warped writer’s imagination tends to take up where the book leaves off. And then I have nightmares. Well, let me tell you, there’s no worry of that happening here because this book never leaves off.

Others have summarized the plot elsewhere so I won’t do that, but I will say that the resurrection of an ancient skull with the still-potent power to create “draculas” however many centuries later is a unique and brilliant premise. The resultant frenetic replication of the “vampire virus” feels a bit like being caught up in a psychedelic blood-drenched petri dish run amok, but then I suspect horror fiction tends to be like that.

Even so, I was delighted by the brief flashes of humour. I wasn’t expecting that in a horror novel. I’m not familiar enough with it to be sure, but even much of the over-the-top gore felt like a tongue in cheek (or what was left of those body parts) tribute to the genre.

There were some tender moments, like this one:

Mortimer rolled on top of her, like a lover, blood and saliva dripping onto Jenny’s face and neck. She reached up to push him away, but as terror-stricken as she was, Jenny couldn’t bring herself to touch him.

Quite a touching scene. Without actually, you know, touching.

And then there were the balloon animals. So wrong. So horribly hilariously wrong. And that whole kangaroo thing. Words fail me.

The use of multiple point-of-view characters should have made this a confusing read. Instead, it serves to increase the tension, making you worry about which of them will survive. You’ll be surprised by who doesn’t. And who does.

I’m conflicted about how many stars to give this book. I don’t enjoy horror and so I can’t say I “liked” it. But I do appreciate a well-written book that does exactly what it’s supposed to do, even if I plan to never read another horror novel, ever again. DRACULAS delivers on its promise. I’m giving it five rather bloody stars. And I’ll be sleeping with the lights on for a while.

Once it releases on October 19, you can buy DRACULAS here. It’s only $2.99 and hey, what’s a few nights lost sleep.

17 Comments

Filed under book reviews

17 responses to “Things that go bump (and gush blood) in the night

  1. RSS

    Loved the review. I don’t read horror either for the same reasons you usually avoid it. I still have nightmares from some I read as a teenager. Not going to mention which ones because then all the scary scenes in the books will pop back into my head.

    But your review has made me curious and I’m tempted. But I do so like sleeping at night without fearing each time one of the dogs bark that a vampire is at the door. So sleep or a good read. Tough choice.

    Like

  2. GatorPerson

    Ha! It’s a Kindle version. Although I’m not very bloody-minded very often, for such a low price I might go ahead a splurge on this, given your review.

    Like

  3. me

    I don’t usually do horror either, at least not in my reading, but I have to say I’m intruigued by the animal balloons and the kangaroos.

    Like

  4. Like others have said, Horror is not usually my thing. However, anything well-written, regardless of genre, is going to make me want to crack open the book and take a peak. This review has made me curious.

    Like

  5. K.L.

    I’ll have to take your word for it. If the vampire isn’t willing to give the girl an orgasm along with the blood withdrawl, I’m gone. Horror gives me the creeps, and not in a good way. But it sounds like it is a well written creep out, which is how it should be.

    Like

  6. Ok. I don’t read horror often for reasons similar to yours but you hooked me with dark irreverent humor and taut seamless writing They’ve got to be worth a few bloody sleepless nights.

    Like

  7. Lou

    A very well written review! However, I just don’t get the vampire thing… They hunt and feast on humans and they live forever. Ick!

    Like

  8. Ooops. I forgot to mention it’s an eBook. No DRM though, so you can read it on any device.

    But I did mention that it’s horror, right? And that there’s gore and violence?

    The humour is very dark. Or just plain sick. And twisted (ha! I crack myself up). But you all know I have a warped sense of humour, so keep that in mind. The animal balloons thing is just wrong. So very wrong. But it made me laugh anyway. And there aren’t kangaroos in the book, just a reference to them. It was very sick. But by that point I’d become a bit inured to it all. [trying not to give spoilers]

    Sorry KL, no orgasms. No sex at all. These aren’t your typical vampires. They’re truly monstrous.

    If any of you do read it, come back and let me know what you think. Just don’t say I didn’t warn you.

    Like

  9. McB

    I actually prefer my vampires to be monstrous. It’s how nature intended them.

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  10. LOL! McB, I actually thought of you when I read this book. Because I know how you feel about the sparkly “romantic” vamps. I think these draculas were unsexy enough even for you. But I don’t picture you as a fan of horror either. 8)

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  11. cc

    I agree McB, if I’m going to do vampires I want them to be bloody obnoxious monsters- this is one that I won’t read until summer (It gets dark too early which means the nights are too long which means there more time for nightmares) but do think I’ll be getting.

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  12. “I want them to be bloody obnoxious monsters” — CC, I think you just summed up exactly what the authors intended with this story. There were some truly scary things in this book. Not sure extended daylight hours are going to help…

    And I didn’t even tell you all about the bonus content. I think the novel is only about half of the total file size. You can do that with ebooks. There are several other stories/excerpts included. I haven’t read them yet. Maybe next summer?

    Like

  13. McB

    Yeah, like you my imagination can take a scene and run with it. But isn’t that what good authors do, catch your imagination?

    Like

  14. Yep. Exactly. And even though I didn’t enjoy where they took me, that’s why I gave this book five stars.

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  15. Theresa

    Hmm. No sex, huh? Well, violence and blood and gore I don’t really mind, as long as it doesn’t involve animals. But I guess if it’s only balloon animals…

    Like

  16. Hmm, I don’t think there were any animals at all in the book. Unless you count the draculas. They sustained a good deal of damage.

    Like

  17. Diane (TT)/ EcoTT

    It sounds like an excellent book. I’m getting sort of impatient with the variations on the sexy vampire theme, so some genuinely horrible ones might be just the ticket.

    So long as they don’t visit me*!

    Like

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