Saturday, December 08, 2012

The Devouring: Kavachi’s Rise – review

Author: Mike Kearby

Release date: 2012

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: A Dark Secret. Thomas Morehart and his sister, Kara are vampyre, not the undead, but creatures evolved over hundreds of thousands of years to mimic their prey, man. Then - rescued from a Nazi Prison Camp, Thomas and Kara are brought to the U.S. and forced to work inside government-owned mortuaries. Now -betrayed by the government, Thomas and Kara are in a race against time to transform back to their feral states or risk Exsanguination by government sanctioned hit squads.

The review: I like unusual lore and Mike Kearby has certainly given us that. As you will have gathered from the blurb the vampyres in this are not the undead but separate species, apex predators above man. That is not to say that there isn’t a supernatural element to this (after all transformation from their natural state to human and back could be said to be supernatural – or perhaps preternatural) but it is a great little premise.

Essentially the vampyres were one of six races or families. The back history to our story is that they were tracked down and captured by Mengele during the Second World War. The race we are dealing with, the Shimulo or fanged ones, were thought by Mengele to be a pure form that he could exploit for the Nazi War Machine. In their natural form large feline creatures, with fangs that might be called sabre-like, they had developed the ability to take human form and walk amongst their prey (their large fangs being the giveaway, as they do not change when in human form, and the reason for them being known as the fanged ones).

The other races were destroyed by Mengele; the Upior from Poland (tongue feeders), the Blutsauger of Bavaria (Bloodsuckers), the Strigoi Morti of Romania (the Dead who Shriek), the Viesczy of Russia (those with stingers instead of fangs) and the Langsuir (the winged ones). To be honest I’d welcome Kearby exploring these other races at some point but for now we have the Shimulo.

They were rescued from the Death Camp and transported to the US as part of a black ops programme and lived peacefully in mortuaries (living off the blood of the dead). They were defanged and, because they didn’t hunt, the fangs never grew back – it was thought that it was the defanging that tempered their predator nature, domesticating them but, in fact, it was the fact that the blood they drank was not absolutely fresh. Their liaison, Nikolai, and a crack team of soldiers were granted extreme longevity because of infusion of very dilute Shimulo blood – fresh undiluted blood proved extremely corrosive to human flesh.

When Nikolai discovers that the Government are to pull the plug on the operation and destroy the Shimulo he breaks ranks and helps Thomas and Kara (a brother and sister) rediscover their predator nature. The book then flows into a fantastically violent adventure that was a welcome move away from all too human and romantic vampires and into a realm of predators and alpha behaviour.

Other traits the Shimulo have is the ability to echo-locate and they must be killed by exsanguination – difficult when they heal as rapidly as they do, but they have a weak point in their natural defences that can be exploited. There is a low level telepathy displayed, which becomes more powerful between a Shimulo and a human that has been given their diluted blood.

Really great fun, this was a rip-roaring yarn that was a well written adventure fantasy and something very unique. 8 out of 10.

No comments: