>Draculas – by J A Konrath, Jeff Strand F Paul Wilson and Blake Crouch
It seems that with every passing day I become more and more jaded with the horror genre. What with once great authors publishing at best average books, great authors not getting the coverage and readership they deserve and the constant in fighting that appears to be rampant among some quarters of the small press. One of the first casualties was my love for the vampire novel. The once great vampire novel has been slowly but surely worn away to some sparkly whinny brat pining for some sad little emo bit of skirt.
Draculas, marks the first ever collaboration between four of the genres true experts. J A Konrath author of the Jack Daniels series of crime novels, Jeff Strand author of such classics as Dweller and Mandibles, Blake Crouch author of Abandon, and Desert Places and finally F Paul Wilson author of the brilliant Repairman Jack Series, and Midnight Mass, one of my favourite vampire novels.
So what happens when four genre heavyweights team up to write a proper vampire novel, is this going to be a rumble in the jungle or something more akin to a hobo fight?
The story kicks of with Mortimer Moorecook a millionaire who has been diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He purchases a skull dug up from a field in Transylvania, purported to be that of a vampire. Once in his possession he proceeds to “bite” himself with the skull Which causes him to collapse and be rushed to the local hospital. Where all hell soon breaks loose. Within a shot space of time nearly everyone has been turned in to an animalistic rampaging vampire.
Sometimes with collaborative novels you can feel the seams where the receptive author his stitched there part of the story into the narrative. This is not the case here, what follows is a seamless piece of fiction, that thunders along like a free wheeling juggernaut. The writing is tight, fast paced, full of action and horror, with a nice touch of humour running through it. One of my favourite characters Clay, the gun obsessed cop, could have, in lesser hands turned into a cliché ridden mess. However, the skill at which he has been written turns him into a sheer joy. yes he names his guns, yes he even modifies his guns and quotes lines from Dirty Harry movies, but this just adds to the fun of the character.
Beware, this is a gore ridden novel, these vampires for the most part are unthinking animals, only concerned with ripping the last drop of blood from their victims bodies. Finally the vampire novel has found its bite again.
In this day of digital, it is common practice to have added value, Draculas is brimming with it. The story only accounts for roughly half the page count, you also get bonus material by the bucket load
a clickable table of contents
– a round-robin interview with Strand, Wilson, Crouch, and Kilborn about writing DRACULAS
– deleted scenes
– two alternate endings
– four excerpts from the authors’ other works
– the short story “Serial” by Crouch and Kilborn
– the short story “Cub Scout Gore Feast” by Kilborn and Strand
– the short story “A Sound of Blunder” by Kilborn and Wilson
– author biographies
– comprehensive clickable bibliographies
– an exclusive, behind-the-scenes look at the writing of DRACULAS, delivered through a collection of over seven hundred emails between the writers as they were brainstorming and writing the book.
These extras are worth the meagre price of the book itself.
If you want watered down vamps then go somewhere else. If you want in my opinion the best Vampire novel of the last ten years, then buy this and devour it in one sitting. Find the time turn the lights down low and prepare yourself for one hell of a read.