Tuesday, February 10, 2015

The Curse: Dracula of the Apes Book 3 – 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.

As Gazda grows to manhood he drifts away from his adoptive family to search out his true origins and others of his kind. When American and European castaways arrive at his lair, he believes they are from his real tribe; but, he dare not approach them until he can resist the siren song of the blood that flows in their veins. When his new friends are captured by cannibal pirates, Gazda races to the rescue. Will winning their freedom reward him with love or damn him eternally as Dracula’s unspoken curse returns?

The review: This third book in the Dracula of the Apes series was the longest of the series and, also, the one with the more traditionally vampiric elements. Whilst Book 1 concentrated on Horvat, the vampire’s servant, and Gazda (Dracula) was still an infant (and adopted by apes) in book 2, in this Gazda has reached adulthood and is King of the Apes.

The book sees new castaways (victims of a mutiny) washed ashore. They would have faced the dangers of the jungle anyway but this part of the African coast has been further corrupted by vampirism – not only Gazda but a grove of corrupted Moringa that casts a sense of dread, can cause the darkest of emotions to emerge and is hinted, I believe, to be vampiric in its own right.

Gazda is drawn to both the younger female castaways and I liked the way that Wells inverted the sex and blood trope. Often writers of vampire novel liken blood drinking to sex – whereas for the innocent vampire sex was likened to blood drinking.

It is this innocence that carries us on the journey. Gazda has no memories of his past life (though some concepts have resurfaced) and so his vampirism, whilst innately evil, is tempered by innocence. He is not a good guy vampire, but the scope is there to allow Wells to construct him as an anti-hero. There isn’t much added in the way of lore bar Wells confirming that his vampires turn others through blood exchange rather than simple predation.

The book draws to a satisfying close – drawing the various main threads to a conclusion via some impressive cinematic set pieces (particularly the battles with Sip-Sip and Magnuh the elephant) but leaves enough room for further volumes. I particularly wonder whether the South African vampire (mentioned in volume 1) would ever come into any extended story? 7.5 out of 10.

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