Monday, November 14, 2022

The Ghost Stories of E. F. Benson

NIGHT TERRORS: THE GHOST STORIES OF E. F. BENSON (2012) constitutes a collection of over fifty works by a classic early-twentieth-century author. It includes fiction from many different subcategories of horror, naturally. However, among them you'll find his vintage vampire stories.

"The Face" introduces a happily married woman who has suffered a pair of recurring dreams for many years. In the first, she approaches the graveyard of a ruined church on a cliff above the sea. In the second, the true nightmare, she reaches the cemetery, where she confronts the leering face of a man who declares he will come for her soon. Shortly after the most recent return of the dreams, she stumbles upon the man's portrait, two hundred years old, in an art gallery. Her health begins to decline. A seaside vacation to repair her shattered nerves, ironically, brings her to the cemetery of her nightmares, which holds the ominous man's grave. Our last glimpse of her shows her walking with the strange man, whose disinterred body is later found after a storm and landslide, perfectly undecayed.

In "The Thing in the Hall," seances and an experiment with hypnosis conjure an elemental, a creature like a large slug that first appears as a shadow and then grows more substantial. Its victims are found dead with their throats slashed.

Another slug-like elemental stalks in the better-known story "Negotium Perambulans." It haunts the vicinity of a house whose impious builder had constructed it from the materials of a church he destroyed. The current church contains a panel depicting "the figure of a robed priest holding up a cross, with which he faced a terrible creature like a gigantic slug." The narrator, however, inclines to the belief that the loathesome entity is a naturally evolved, material creature. It leaves its victims "skin and bones as if every drop of blood had been sucked out." The description of the thing itself provides as gruesome an image of stomach-turning horror as one could hope to find in classic supernatural fiction.

"And No Bird Sings" features a patch of woodland that drains life-energy from living creatures. The bloodthirsty dead woman in "The Room in the Tower" preys on her victims, guests in the titular room, through the medium of her portrait.

The title character of Benson's best-known vampire story, the often reprinted "Mrs. Amworth," stands out from most such creatures by her gregarious, forthright, down-to-earth personality. Far from shunning daylight, she loves the outdoors and gardening. First a living vampire (perhaps hereditary), she rises as a typical undead after she's accidentally killed. The narrator's best friend, a retired professor of physiology with an interest in the occult, plays the Van Helsing role, with the narrator as a Watson-like representative of the audience.

In addition to these tales of vampirism, the NIGHT TERRORS collection includes numerous acclaimed classic stories of terror (e.g., "How Fear Departed from the Long Gallery," "Caterpillars," and "The Wishing-Well," among others) as well as more obscure pieces seldom or never found in anthologies.

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Friday, October 14, 2022

Generation V

In GENERATION V (2013), M. L. Brennan designs a naturally evolved vampire species that's unique in at least one aspect of its biology, as far as I know. Fortitude, the protagonist, strenuously but ineffectively strives to reject the heritage of his species in favor of leading a quasi-human existence. He has a college degree in an impractical major, a job at a coffee shop, an unfaithful girlfriend, and an obnoxious roommate. Unlike most stereotypical Gen X bachelors coping with their first experiences of “real life,” however, he belongs to a family of vampires. Not having yet made the “transition” to adult vampirism, he is still mostly human. Fort detests his need to drink blood from his mother at regular intervals and postpones it each time as long as possible. The analogy with a human slacker dude living off his parents is probably intentional.

Because, contrary to the usual custom, he was brought up until the age of nine by human foster parents, he also clings to human attitudes that baffle his mother and two siblings, Chivalry (brother, who has a human wife he truly loves) and Prudence (sister, the most sociopathic member of the family). These vampires become biologically more inhuman with increasing age, e.g. in prominence of fangs and intolerance for sunlight and solid foods. It's their mode of reproduction, though, that especially sets them apart from other fictional vampires. Both males and females have functioning genitalia but lack the ability to reproduce. Instead, they must create “hosts” through a blood-exchange process that changes the human victim’s physiology so radically that offspring conceived by him or her have vampire DNA. Creating a viable host is a difficult procedure few vampires succeed in accomplishing. Madeline, Fort’s mother, is highly unusual in having managed to create two hosts, male and female. Unfortunately, the process eventually reduces the human subjects to an animalistic, uncontrollably violent condition.

Near the beginning of the novel, a vampire from a different territory arrives to pay his respects to Madeline. When he turns out to be a homicidal pedophile, Fort becomes determined to rescue the villain’s one surviving abductee, a little girl. Fort’s family members refuse to help with what they see as an irrational mission that violates vampire etiquette. Like many urban fantasy works, this book and its sequels complicate the protagonist’s life by involving representatives of other monstrous species, such as a kitsune hired by Madeline as a bodyguard for Fort. In dealing with various nonhuman allies and antagonists as well as coping with his transition to full adulthood, Fort repeatedly finds both his principles and his competence tested. This series contains a bracing blend of suspense, humor, character growth, and ethical quandaries.

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Wednesday, September 14, 2022

Empire of Fear

Brian Stableford portrays vampirism as a contagious disease in THE EMPIRE OF FEAR (1988). A version of the first section was published in THE MAGAZINE OF FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION under the title "The Man Who Loved the Vampire Lady." An epic work of alternate history, EMPIRE OF FEAR takes place mainly in seventeenth-century Europe and Africa, as the Renaissance inaugurates the beginnings of modern science. The main but not exclusive viewpoint character for most of the story, Noell Cordery, devotes his career to researching the biological origin of vampirism. Interludes in the form of inserted letters from various characters provide other perspectives. Historical figures such as Vlad Tepes appear.

In the world of this novel, vampires have long since consolidated their hegemony, despite the fear and hostility directed at them from some quarters. An aristocratic caste, they dominate ordinary mortals, a difference in status highlighted by references to non-vampires as "common men." Ultimately vampirism is revealed as an infection that alters the human genetic code. The virus originally came to Earth on a meteorite that landed in the depths of Africa, so that the transformed elite are almost literally aliens. Since only the semen of an infected male can effect transformation, all male vampires are engendered through homosexual intercourse. A global pandemic spreading out of Africa via sexual contact inevitably evokes the real-world AIDS epidemic. The vampiric infection, however, is benign rather than harmful; it changes its hosts into superior beings. The political, religious, and social consequences of their dominance are meticulously explored and portrayed in rich detail. After superstitions about vampirism are replaced with scientific facts, immortality becomes available to all except the minority who are immune to the virus. Freed by synthetic nourishment from the need to drink live blood, the transformed population embraces a new world order.

The novel's final section leaps ahead to 1983, when this transformation has spread worldwide. The protagonist, Michael, is a mortal man barred from the immortal privilege of the majority. Unlike Neville at the end of Richard Matheson's pioneering vampirism-as-disease work, I AM LEGEND (1954), however, Stableford's Michael is not a feared and loathed outcast, but the cherished lover of a vampire woman. Stableford's story, therefore, concludes with reconciliation rather than alienation, although in a melancholy tone.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Jacob

Okay, like the book highlighted here last month, JACOB: A NOVEL OF THE NIGHTSIDERS (2015), by David Gerrold, is less than ten years old, too. However, it's also a vampire novel many fans might have missed, somewhat unusual and well worth checking out. This slender (just under 200 pages) but intriguing book comes from the author of the classic STAR TREK script “The Trouble with Tribbles” and many other SF works. The narrative invokes an obviously deliberate parallel to Rice’s INTERVIEW WITH THE VAMPIRE, as the title character applies the label “interview” to his conversations with the narrator. The latter is a struggling author who attains some modest success over the course of the novel.

Jacob first approaches him at a meeting of a writers’ critique group, interest apparently piqued by the narrator’s perceptive remarks. Unlike the structure of Rice’s novel, which compresses Louis’s interview into a single session, JACOB shows the vampire revealing his past little by little in a series of dialogues over several years. Gerrold describes vampirism as a non-supernatural infectious disease, a “parasitic symbiosis” that converts its host into an “apex predator.” Vampires exercise cautious restraint in choosing people to transform, and only the very reckless create child or adolescent vampires. As Jacob points out, why would anyone want a callow youth as an immortal companion? Also unlike Louis, Jacob doesn’t describe the process of his transformation. In fact, we never learn how the change is done.

Born in Seattle in 1858, Jacob was orphaned at an early age and had to live on the streets, stealing and whoring. “Monsieur,” seeing potential in him, adopted and educated him, eventually sending him to Harvard. By then, Jacob knew of his guardian’s true nature, at least as much as Monsieur chose to reveal. Jacob expected to be transformed eventually. But then he received news of a fire that destroyed the mansion in Seattle, with the owner presumed dead. Jacob tells the narrator of his search for other vampires, almost impossible to find if they don’t want to be, and some details of his post-transformation life. According to Jacob, vampires purposely choose for conversion people who, if not sociopaths already, have the capacity to become such. Only a sociopath could endure having to kill uncounted numbers of victims to survive over centuries of existence.

Logical—IF a vampire must kill every time he or she feeds, a premise I always find annoying. To me, it doesn’t make sense for an intelligent predator to endanger himself that way without a plausible reason, which few authors provide (with some notable exceptions). And even though Jacob states or at least strongly implies that vampires have to kill whenever they feed, we later witness him sipping from several victims in a row and letting them live. Aside from this quibble, I found the novel totally convincing.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt

Thursday, July 14, 2022

Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis

PRINCE LESTAT AND THE REALMS OF ATLANTIS (2016), a follow-up to PRINCE LESTAT (2014), doesn't quite fit my criterion of "over ten years old" for these retro reviews. Many fans of Anne Rice's vampire series, though, may not have caught up with the latest installments, so I figured you might like to read about this rather strange addition to Rice's mythos. It unveils astounding revelations about the origin and true nature of Amel, the spirit who created the first vampire by possessing Queen Akasha 6000 years ago. In the previous novel, Lestat became host to Amel, the “Core” that animates all vampires (or, using the term most of them prefer, Blood Drinkers) and links them together in a universal network. Amel sometimes takes up temporary residence in different vampires’ minds, but mainly he stays with Lestat. In his role as “Prince,” Lestat exercises loose authority over the rest of his kind and also bears the burden of knowing that any harm to him will hurt other vampires worse, especially young, fragile fledglings.

This story reveals the source of vampirism in Atlantis and. . . aliens. A renegade vampire has been imprisoning and torturing a strange immortal who turns out to be an extraterrestrial. He and his companions were created and sent to Earth many millennia in the past to correct what their “Parents” view as evolution’s error in making a species of mammal our planet’s dominant intelligence. The alien visitors fell in love with Earth and abandoned their mission. Their backstory and their connection with Amel, followed by the risky project of freeing all vampires from dependence on the immortal spirit, form the heart of the book.

The narrative is told from several viewpoints, two of them in first person, Lestat’s and that of the female alien who unfolds the history of herself, her companions, and Atlantis. One weakness of the novel, in my opinion, is that all the narrative voices sound pretty much alike, i.e., like Lestat. Since I find him more irritating than alluring, that’s a negative for me. On the positive side, PRINCE LESTAT AND THE REALMS OF ATLANTIS (why “Realms,” plural, by the way?) includes a glossary of special terms used by the Blood Drinkers, an annotated cast list of the characters in the books, and titles and brief summaries of all the installments in the series up to that point. With this work, Rice produced an ingenious, ambitious expansion of her vampires’ origin myth, well worth reading even if, like me, you find Lestat as a character (in the later books, at least) practically insufferable.

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

The Traveling Vampire Show

Richard Laymon, author of THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW (limited edition 2000, mass-market paperback 2001), prolific creator of many horror novels and short stories over his two-decade career, published at least one other vampire novel, BITE (1996). THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW received a posthumous Bram Stoker Award in 2001.

On the outskirts of a small town in the summer of 1963, the Traveling Vampire Show prepares for a midnight performance featuring Valeria, "the only living vampire in captivity." First-person narrator Dwight and his two best friends, Rusty and Slim (a girl who changes her nickname in accordance with her favorite reading material of the moment), all sixteen years old, can't resist the allure of the show's advertisements, even though the venue is an ill-omened plot of land where multiple corpses of murder victims were unearthed, and nobody under eighteen is supposed be allowed anyway. Things begin to go wrong from the moment they arrive at Janks Field, the afternoon before the performance, in hopes of catching a glimpse of Valeria. A vicious dog traps them on top of a shed, and in the process of trying to escape, they become separated. The rest of the day unfolds with practically nonstop suspense, yet still allowing room for atmosphere, character development, and the deepening relationship between Dwight and Slim. Are members of the Traveling Vampire Show following and threatening the three teenagers? Are those strangers dangerous or merely creepy? What, if anything, do they have to do with the sinister Cadillac Twins, two men by whom Slim was almost abducted a month earlier? Most important, is Valeria a "real" vampire? The heroes' better judgment tells them otherwise, but they can't suppress a twinge of fear that vampires may really exist.

With the help of Dwight's sister-in-law, Lee, they gain admission to the performance. From that point, events rush toward a breathtaking climax. Through the eyes of sixteen-year-old Dwight, we do not learn the truth about Valeria until almost the end. In fact, we don't even get a glimpse of her until well past the 300-page mark in the 391-page paperback. The author shows admirable skill in maintaining narrative tension throughout while keeping the "monster" offstage that long. In a denouement no reader is likely to anticipate, the heroes uncover the secret of the Traveling Vampire Show. Slim, facing the villains with her bow and arrow, and Dwight, prepared to risk his life for his equally brave sister-in-law, prove to be true heroes. Their brash, mostly unlikable friend Rusty doesn't merit that label, but he, too, is a vivid and memorable character. The 1963 small-town setting lends a special dimension to the story. For Boomers, the imaginary return to the summer before Kennedy's assassination will provide a pleasurable exercise in nostalgia (at least, it did for me). Dwight tells the story from the perspective of an adult looking back at his youth, although for most of the book his adult persona is submerged in his vivid memories of the horrific past events. For younger readers, this book reveals a vanished world of rotary telephones and only three channels on TV, when suburban households didn't lock their doors in the daytime, when teenagers had easy access to weapons but wouldn't dare be caught upstairs in the home of a friend of the opposite sex. In a small way, though, Dwight and his friends do not ring completely true for me in at least one respect. As a teenage girl in the year of this story, I had never even seen in print a couple of the words that drop casually from these kids' lips when no adults are present, much less heard them spoken aloud. (I can believe Dwight and Rusty might use the F-word and other obscenities between themselves, but not in front of Slim.)

While actually reading the book, however, I noticed this factor only as a minor niggle in the back of my mind. THE TRAVELING VAMPIRE SHOW is a sometimes heartbreaking coming-of-age tale about characters who spring to life from the first page. The comparison in a cover quote on the paperback to Ray Bradbury's SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, a classic adventure-fantasy of two boys menaced by a sinister carnival in a small town, has some justification. A closer analogy, however, would be with Stephen King's IT. Laymon's novel, featuring the shadow of past tragedies (the serial killer's victims in Janks Field), explicit language, occasional scenes of graphic violence, and adolescent male preoccupation with the mysteries of sex brings to mind King more than Bradbury.

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Saturday, May 14, 2022

Detective Brand's Greatest Case

THE VAMPIRE; OR, DETECTIVE BRAND'S GREATEST CASE (1885), a 19th-century "dime novel," was recently revived as a trade paperback edited by Gary D. Rhodes and John Edgar Browning. Their background and analysis essay, "America's First Vampire and the Supernatural as Artifice," appears as an afterword rather than an introduction, probably to avoid inflicting spoilers on readers who might start with the editors' introduction. (I read it first anyway.) It surveys earlier nineteenth-century vampire fiction and the history of the dime novel, then discusses THE VAMPIRE in particular. Although this book was originally published anonymously, the "About the Author" preface cites evidence to identify Hawley Smart, a British army officer turned writer, as the probable author. Dime novels were short paperbacks of adventure, crime, suspense, and horror popular in the late nineteenth century. They seldom featured actual supernatural phenomena, as, indeed, THE VAMPIRE doesn't, although it does include ample suspense and horror. The publisher of this edition highlights it as "America's first vampire novel."

Murder victims turn up with punctures in their necks resembling fang marks. A police officer who discovers one body gets a glimpse of an ominous figure whose black cloak resembles the wings of a huge bird of prey. There's an orphaned damsel in distress, brought to New York as the mysterious beneficiary of a millionaire's inexplicable generosity. A stalwart young hero falls in love with her and helps to rescue her from the villain. We never learn definitely whether the "vampire" is simply a deranged serial killer who believes he needs blood or the need is genuine, enhancing the horror dimension of the story. New York landmarks and cultural elements (including stereotypical Irish-accented policemen) give the novel a convincingly realistic background to offset the melodramatic, often farfetched plot.

Detective Brand, as mentioned by the editors, somewhat foreshadows Sherlock Holmes. Brand is a brilliant investigator called in when the police are stumped. He's a bit eccentric and takes only cases that intrigue him because of their unusual features. He's also a master of disguise. Holmes, however, would certainly not let himself be lured to a strange woman's home—unless he recognized the trap and intended to turn the tables on the would-be seductress. Brand solves the murders at least as much by luck and coincidence as by rational deduction.

This is a fun, fast-paced mystery with abundant plot twists and life-threatening cliffhangers. Vintage vampire fans who can suspend disbelief and let themselves get swept along by the melodrama will probably relish it.

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Thursday, April 14, 2022

The Secret History of Vampires

THE SECRET HISTORY OF VAMPIRES (2007), edited by Darrell Schweitzer and Martin H. Greenberg, brings to mind Greenberg's THE TIME OF THE VAMPIRES (1996), another anthology of stories about vampires in different eras of the past. SECRET HISTORY, however, focuses more particularly on the theme of the undead meeting important historical persons at the nexus of pivotal events. As Schweitzer's introduction speculates, if immortal vampires manipulated events from the shadows through past centuries, what agendas might they have?

This all-original anthology starts with "Under St. Peter's," by bestselling alternate history writer Harry Turtledove. Most readers will probably guess the identity of the prisoner hidden under Vatican City well before the end, but the revelation is still grimly effective. In "A Princess of Spain," by Carrie Vaughn, we learn the truth behind the death of Prince Arthur, first husband of Catherine of Aragon. "Garbo Quits," by Ron Goulart, reveals why Greta Garbo's acting career ended. Gregory Frost, in "Ill-Met in Ilium," renders in narrative poetry an untold episode from the Trojan War. "Two Hunters in Manhattan," by Mike Resnick, takes place early in Teddy Roosevelt's career, while serving as the New York Commissioner of Police. "Sepulchres of the Undead," by Keith Taylor, is set in ancient Egypt. Saint Anthony appears as a vampire fighting his curse in "The Temptation of Saint Anthony," by Brian Stableford. P. D. Cacek, Sarah A. Hoyt, Tanith Lee, and John Gregory Betancourt, among others, also appear in the roster of contributors. Napoleon, Lenin, Helen of Troy, and Cleopatra are some of the other historical figures we meet.

My personal favorite is Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's "Harpy," set in ancient Greece, wherein her immortal Count Saint-Germain grants us a fresh perspective on the unfairly maligned wife of a famed philosopher. My only complaint about THE SECRET HISTORY OF VAMPIRES concerns the arrangement of the stories. Why aren't they printed in chronological order instead of scattered through the millennia seemingly at random?

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.

Monday, March 14, 2022

Vamps

The anthology VAMPS (1987), edited by Martin H. Greenberg and Charles G. Waugh, reprinted sixteen stories of female vampires, mostly from the nineteenth and early to mid-twentieth centuries, plus two more recent. Those two, "One for the Road," by Stephen King, and "Red as Blood," by Tanith Lee, may be familiar to many fans but not all. King's story revisits the abandoned town of 'Salem's Lot, where a few creatures of the night still lie in wait for unwary travelers. Tanith Lee creates an unforgettable dark fairy tale of Snow White as an unnatural child and her stepmother, the new queen, as a good witch intent on protecting her people.

This volume contains a few often-reprinted standards, making it a useful introductory text for novices in search of the female undead who lurk in the fiction of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. These include Theophile Gautier's "Clarimonda" (frequently published elsewhere under various English titles), J. Sheridan Le Fanu's "Carmilla," F. Marion Crawford's "For the Blood Is the Life" (the exhumation of the terrifying yet pitiable undead girl presents one of the most chilling images in this subgenre, in my opinion), and Fritz Leiber's modern take on the psychic vampire in an age of mass communication, "The Girl with the Hungry Eyes."

Among the other selections appear two of Manly Wade Wellman's many vampire tales, "The Last Grave of Lill Warran," a rural folk horror piece starring investigator of the supernatural John Thunstone, and "When It Was Moonlight," wherein Edgar Allan Poe tangles with an undead woman while researching premature burials. Robert Bloch's delightful "The Cloak," which was adapted (with many changes) as one segment of the film THE HOUSE THAT DRIPPED BLOOD, features an authentic vampire cape that transforms the wearer. Another sinister garment works a transformation in Richard Matheson's much darker story of a child vampire, "Dress of White Silk." We meet an energy-draining character in Mary Wilkins Freeman's "Luella Miller" and a wronged woman whose thirst for vengeance turns her into a revenant who returns with every snowstorm in "The Drifting Snow," by August Derleth. In one of my favorite vintage pulp stories, "She Only Goes Out at Night," by William Tenn, the young lady described in the title isn't evil at all, but the victim of a hereditary disease, ultimately controlled by modern medical science to give her a happy ending with the man she loves.

Julian Hawthorne ("Ken's Mystery," a tale of supernatural time travel in a haunted Irish countryside), David Keller ("Heredity," which draws upon obsolete concepts of "atavism" to explain its horrific scenario), and Seabury Quinn ("Restless Souls," one of many stories featuring occult expert Jules de Grandin) complete the roster of distinguished authors. Readers could hardly ask for a more wide-ranging yet deeply rooted overview of the female vampire trope in classic and vintage fiction. My only complaint is that the contents aren't in chronological order, as would be logical. Amazon offers reasonably priced secondhand copies of at least three different editions of this book.

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the vampires at Carter's Crypt.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Draculas

I picked up DRACULAS (2010), an unusual collaboration among Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand, and F. Paul Wilson, because the premise intrigued me: Mortimer Moorecock, an elderly, sick, very wealthy man, buys a bizarre skull discovered in a farmer's field in Romania. Although humanoid, it isn't a specimen of any recognized hominid species, having a jaw full of shark-like teeth. On the wild chance that the skull actually came from a vampire, Moorecock expects it to rejuvenate him. Never mind that if the creature belonged to a different species, its nature couldn't be contagious, and if the vampiric condition is transmitted by venom or a microorganism, surely neither would be viable after thousands or millions of years in the ground. Nevertheless, upon contact with the fangs Moorecock almost instantly displays alarming symptoms. After he's rushed to a hospital, in a terrifyingly brief time he transforms into a ravening monster. Since anyone bitten changes rapidly, the infection—portrayed as a contagious disease—spreads from the emergency room throughout the building.

Given the nearly mindless condition of most of the victims, the scenario resembles a localized version of a zombie apocalypse. I find it slightly strange that the viewpoint characters label the monsters "draculas" instead of vampires; it's been many decades since Count Dracula was the only pop-culture vampire most people had come across. Scenes are narrated from multiple viewpoints, each chapter helpfully headed with the name of the viewpoint character. Heroes, antagonists, and ordinary people caught in the random outbreaks of violence all get their moments in the spotlight. Some of the characters are sympathetic and appealing, many of them not so much. The narrative is heavy on action, violence, and rapid-fire dialogue, low on introspection. Still, we do get acquainted with some of the characters thoroughly enough to root for them and feel sorry if the monsters kill them, which happens often.

The scenes are interwoven so smoothly that the reader can't tell when one of the four authors replaces another. (At least, I couldn't.) An afterword, consisting of a dialogue among the authors, discusses the development of the novel's concept and how the collaboration worked. I was slightly disappointed that we never learn much about either the skull's origin or the biology and physiology of the "draculas," my main interest. The unremitting suspense and life-or-death danger to the few admirable characters held my attention to the end. But I didn't care for the extreme violence and gore or the too-frequent instances of what used to be called "four-letter words." While I admire the skillful plotting and writing, if the novel had a sequel I wouldn't feel motivated to seek it out. This is a book for readers who enjoy fast-paced horror fiction with graphically bloody scenes. In short (to quote somebody or other), if you like this kind of thing, this is the kind of thing you'll like.

Margaret L. Carter

Carter's Crypt