Friday, May 27, 2011

Vampyrnomicon – review

Author: Scott M Baker

Release date: 2011

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Hunters and vampires seek The Vampyrnomicon, a book that could destroy the vampires...or mankind.

Within the vaults of the Smithsonian Institute lies the key to finding The Vampyrnomicon, the Book of the Undead that contains the history and secrets of the vampires. According to legend, whoever possesses the book can establish a vampire nation on earth - or destroy the undead once and for all. With an opportunity to end the war against the undead so close, Drake Matthews is determined to find the book.

But the vampires also want The Vampyrnomicon. When Master Chiang Shih and her coven of the most powerful and dangerous vampires arrive in Washington to claim the book as their own, the hunters find themselves facing their most deadly enemy yet. With the stakes so high, so is the ferocity of the struggle.

The review: This is the sequel to Baker’s the Vampire Hunters and, despite a silly title, proves to be a step up from the previous volume.

Talking title for just a moment, I’m afraid it struck me as unwieldy as a word and gave the impression, certainly before I read the first volume, that the book was going to be a spoof. It is far from that, it is also less action packed than the first volume but that is no bad thing.

I really enjoyed the high octane action that Baker fuelled the first volume with but, as this is by design a trilogy, I don’t know if action alone could have sustained the series. The author turns down a gear and allows the story to build at a steady pace and further encourages the characters to develop. This permanently takes away the underscore of character cliché that threatened the first volume and forges believable and flawed personalities.

That is not to say that there isn’t action but it is more controlled – just as the new vampires in town are – building to an explosive closing crescendo. That is not to say that the vampires are any less violent or, indeed, any less evil. Baker most certainly wants to put the nasty back into vampires and that is a welcome goal. Sharp eyed readers will have spotted, I am sure, that the master vampire is named Chiang Shih, a variant spelling of kyonsi – though she is not like the hopping vampires of Chinese Cinema. There is an additional piece of lore in this volume that I can’t spoil as it is the basis of a twist.

The prose seems to flow a tad more naturally through this volume, indicating an author more comfortable with his craft. The through-the-ages-flashbacks work very well in this part as well. An interesting premise that has developed from a balls-out action book into an interesting story underscored with developed characterisation. 7 out of 10.

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