Wednesday, December 03, 2014

V-Wars: Blood & Fire: a Chronicle of the Vampire Wars - review

Editor: Jonathan Maberry

First published: 2014

Contains spoilers

The blurb: When anyone can turn.

When every street is a war zone.

Our world will burn.

Our world will bleed.

There is nowhere to run!

It's been one year since a virus triggered junk DNA and people all over the world started changing. Becoming something else. Craving blood.

It's been 10 months since the word "vampire" stopped being something from old monster stories and Hollywood movies.

It's been six months since our world and theirs erupted into war.

It's been two months since an uneasy peace was signed.

It's been one hour says that peace was shattered.

War is here again.

The Vampire War.

The review: Regular readers will know that I thoroughly enjoyed the first V-Wars volume and also enjoyed the first V-Wars graphic novel, though admittedly less so than the prose. For those unaware of the series, V-Wars is set in a world where a virus, released from ice drilling, has activated junk DNA in certain people around the world mutating than into vampires. There are a whole range of vampires dependent on genetic background. Indeed in this volume we discover that in this world they have seen and 92 species, including 18 subtypes not in literature. Folklorist Luther Swann postulates that could leave nearly 200 species from folklore as possible new species and further hybrids are possible beyond this.

Like the first volume, this volume is made up of short stories by different authors set in the universe and interspersed between each other. The writing is tight throughout, and the stories entertaining. As somewhat of a vampire geek part of the joy is the wide variety of vampire types used, although purists who prefer their vampires Slavic may be a little disappointed. In this volume I noted the following vampire types: draugr, kyonsi, a snake vampire whose species is not named (but the character has featured in both volumes), upor, cihuateteo, mandurugo (with aswang mentioned in passing), craqueuhhe, neuntöter (which are said to be covered in pustules containing pathogens, making them a plague carrier), nelapsi (with alp mentioned in passing) and kallikantzaros.

Werewolves do feature in this, but as a creature born of the ice virus it is suggested they are a subspecies of vampire. In the V-Wars universe the humans had only come across a few werewolves including a loup garou, and were hunting a vampire killing werewolf serial killer of another variety. Swann does list folklore variants including vampire/werewolf hybrids such as the pryccolitch or the Haitian loogaroo, who were said to be witches that shed their skins at night to become vampire/werewolf hybrids. Others mentioned are the mjertovjec (said to become a vampire on death), the lobishomen and the farkaskoldus.

Whilst many vampires in the V-Wars universe are blood drinkers or flesh eaters the broader definition is a person who has an abnormal need to feed on one of several vital substances including energy. I liked the explanation of the mandurugo being thought to split in half due to their excellent chameleon-like skills, thus only revealing part of themselves to attack.

As I intimated earlier this is a superb volume, as good as the first volume. I do like the short story style breaking the book into vignettes. This could easily translate itself into episodes for a TV series or chapters in a portmanteau film. I think there is perhaps also room for dedicated single focused novels. That, of course, is a fan boy’s wish list, and for now I'll happily sit and wait for the next V-Wars volume. 9 out of 10.

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