Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fear the Light: Who Murdered Dracula? – review

Author: William Massa

First published: 2013

Contains spoilers


Many had tried to kill the Count over the centuries. All had failed. Until now...

Eight vampires gather at their maker's castle to solve the mystery of who killed Dracula. But as the sun rises outside the chateau, a voice cries out and another vampire is slain. Trapped inside their master's lair, the sun burning bright outside, Dracula's children realize that they have met their match - a formidable killer who plans on picking them off one by one! As the daylight reigns and their numbers dwindle, a dark suspicion grows - could the killer be hiding in plain sight?

The review: Dracula is dead… In the first chapter we see the murder of Dracula (without seeing the murderer) and the scene sets the tone for the rest of the novel. Dracula awakens, having somehow been incapacitated (either through tainted or dead blood), to find himself crucified with silver nails and the sun coming up.

It has to be said here that William Massa uses fairly non-classical lore for his version of Dracula, the vampires cannot shape shift and are not fazed by holy items but they can be staked (stakes of a silver variety are used in novel), they not only have diminished powers but also rapidly burn in the sun and they are faster and stronger than a human. However being true to the original Stoker creation is not the point. The name is a jumping off point, the character dies in the first chapter but his “children” are the vampires we get to know in book.

The primary character is Vincent – he turned from the path of the apex predator some twenty years before and has been off the human blood, but the other vampires are all predators with a disdain for humanity. As such it is fun to see them switch from being predator to prey. The story is essentially ten little Indians and, to be honest, I guessed who the murderer was pretty early on – nevertheless it was fun to see my suspicions confirmed. This is in no small part down to the fact that Massa writes in a crisp style that keeps you hooked into his prose as the novel bobs along with a good pace (the action essentially takes place in one night, which helps the pace of course).

I really did enjoy this as a read. It is pulpy, no doubt, but I like a bit of pulp now again. It is great to have the vampires drawn powerful and (for the main part) bad. There was perhaps room to expand on the characters but the book didn’t need that – we got just enough to enjoy murder after murder. This is the sort of book that will naturally translate into a screenplay, 8 of 10.

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