Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Ape: Dracula of the Apes Book 2 – review

Author: G Wells Taylor

First published: 2014

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: Dracula of the Apes picks up where Bram Stoker’s Dracula left off and Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan of the Apes began. Genres collide in this thrilling horror/adventure fiction hybrid.

A grieving she-ape whose son was murdered by an ambitious alpha male, mistakes Dracula’s regenerating body for a newborn of her species, so she names the foundling “Gazda” and takes him to her tribe to raise as her own. With only a “child’s mind” and no memory of his true identity, the unusual orphan uses his budding abilities to survive in the jungle and grow from social outcast to trusted member of the tribe. As Gazda matures into a peerless hunter, he wins friends and enemies among the bull apes who compete for dominance; and while his differences raise questions about his origins, the call of the wild overpowers their doubts.

The Review: When I looked at the first book of this series, the Urn, I suggested it was of novella length. This second volume is longer, long enough I’d say to be classed as a novel, and of a very different prose style.

Whilst the first book followed the gypsy Horvat, through his diaries, this is very much a third person journey with Gazda. Before meeting his untimely end, Horvat discovered that the shipwreck had not destroyed the metamorphic goo that was his regenerating master. By the times the intelligent apes (Taylor draws a group of apes, physically akin to gorillas but more intelligent, with language skills and social laws) find the regenerating vampire it was developed enough for a mourning she-ape, Eeda, to adopt him to fill the gap left by her dead offspring.

As he grows his differences are marked, especially as he is a vampire and finds himself feeling sleepy and physically much weaker during the day and active at night. He feeds, at first, by suckling and taking blood from his ape mother, later through night hunts – where he drains his prey and then gives the meat to the tribe. To the other apes he is deemed a night ape. I found the way that Wells Taylor introduced abilities to Gazda, and through him to us, to be really well done. Some occur once and by accident – when Garzda momentarily morphs into a bat – others, his healing for instance, he keeps hidden.

I mentioned in the previous review that I have not read Tarzan. After reading this volume I researched the first Tarzan volume and, from what I can gather, there are enough plot convergences here to make the volume’s roots clear but enough differences to make this its own beast. And what a beast, thoroughly enjoyable and much more vampiric than the first volume I am left anticipating what will occur in volume 3. 7.5 out of 10.

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