October 12, 2010

Rabid Reads: "Draculas" by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand, & F. Paul Wilson

by Black Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand, & F. Paul Wilson
Kindle exclusive (2010)
411 pages
Purchase at Amazon

I am not so sure these four authors should be commended so much as they should be committed. This was one sick, crazy vampire tale.

Draculas takes the well-worn vampire myth and turns it on its head--then defiles it in ways I dare not repeat. If you read Guillermo Del Toro's and Chuck Hogan's The Strain and somehow walked away from it feeling that the action wasn't intense enough and it didn't push enough boundaries, then this book is for you.

Take an eccentric old millionaire on his death bed and give him a priceless artifact obtained on the black market--an excavated skull that looks to be from a hideous beast that's not quite human. Then have that old bag of bones intentionally stab himself with the skull's fangs contracting what turns out to be a vampire curse/virus. Pretty wild stuff, yes, but that's just the tippy-top of the iceberg. The real fun gets underway when he's transported to the hospital and transforms--and goes outhouse crazy on everyone in sight. Now you're cooking with gas.

If you need a movie to compare this too, think Planet Terror meets Dawn of the Dead ... but with feral, insatiable bloodsuckers with fangs so massive they protrude through ravaged skin. Needless to say they do not sparkle.

To encapsulate the story in a word, try "relentless". Anything resembling a slow point in the story is abandoned, as the novel is surprisingly brief (it clocks in around 170 pages) and has several points of view throughout--heroes and villains. The characters aren't fleshed out to any great degree, and a couple feel like they have appeared in many a horror story, but most felt more genuine than I initially suspected. Oddly enough, it was the over-the-top characters like the movie buff gunsmith that won me over as the story progressed.

With four authors crafting this tale, it's enough to make you think of the old adage: too many cooks spoil the broth. Fortunately for this tale, there was a consensus among the four as to what the tone and pace of the story should be. As a matter of fact, part of the included bonus material with this book has some shared e-mails between the four that give a glimpse into how the initial outline for the story came about, and how each author brought their own gifts to bear.

If you have an aversion to gore, Draculas is not for you at all. It's a high-octane bloodbath with more depth than it has any right to contain. I liked it and almost feel the need to apologize for liking it. A guilty pleasure, perhaps?


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