Wednesday, September 03, 2008

The Awakening – review

Author: John Russo

First Published: 1983

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: “For two hundred years, he has rested. Now he rises. Now he will be satisfied. Nothing can stop him. No one can resist him.

“Benjamin Latham is young and handsome, his eighteenth-century mind wakened to a bizarre twentieth-century world. And there is the need within... an animal need, frightening, murderous, unholy... a vital need that must be fed
“And with his need comes a power over men and women to do his bidding, to quiet his dark craving...

“Until the murders begin. And the inquiries. All suggesting the same hideous truth.

“Now Benjamin must find sanctuary: a lover, a partner, a friend. Someone who can share his darkness. Someone he can lead to... the awakening”

The review: When I reviewed the movie Dark Craving, I mentioned that the film was based upon director John Russo’s own novel. When I published that review I mentioned that I had immediately ordered the novel, I also said that the film “lacks atmosphere and the acting is perhaps too ... It has story however, it has unique lore by the bucket full”.

One of the joys of the novel is that it has much more atmosphere lurking between the words, than perhaps was transposed to screen. It also has an easy style that ensures that the reader is drawn into the world of Benjamin Latham.

The blurb is perhaps one of the more inaccurately vague blurbs I have read for a while, but the main concept of the story is as described in the movie review. There are differences, the number of feeds investigated (we discover in the book that Benjamin feeds on a roughly 28 day cycle – neatly connecting his vampirism with perhaps more 19th century lunar traditions) are curtailed in the movie. The role of Benjamin’s descendant is slightly altered, more vicious and more fulfilling.

We get even more lore, and the lore in the main works well. I suggest you read the movie review for details on Benjamin’s rebirth through others superstition and his poisonous saliva. However we discover that, unless spotted first, he can make people simply not see him and has some degree of mind control. This is not absolute however. The cop (or trooper in this) Vargo becomes more and more immune due to his single-mindedness and, perhaps, because he is really mentally ill. Certainly Benjamin cannot control those in the grip of psychosis.

I was less sure about the turning process (of Lenora, Benjamin’s lover). This was well thought out in the movie, and most of the process is the same in the novel. There is also the addition of Lenora kissing where Benjamin’s navel should have been and an energy passing between them – over complicated in my book, the passing of the saliva and other bodily fluids was enough.

A minor lore quibble, however. Certainly worth digging out as a novel. 7 out of 10.

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