Cold Light of Day by Paul Cave

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Cold Light of Day by Paul Cave

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: An interesting and entertaining genre story, with a melange of horror tropes (werewolf, blood-sucker, succubus) and her human boyfriend being chased across North America by the police and the last of her species.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Yes
Pages: 349 Date: December 2006
Publisher: Apex Publishing Ltd, Essex
ISBN: 978-1904444824

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Having read Paul Cave's first published attempt at a horror novel (my review of which you can read here (but only once you've read this one, of course) I was certainly interested to turn to his second.

One night Josh has a most thrilling encounter with a gorgeous girl that changes his life. Never before has he had the ease and opportunity to invite her for drinks, and back to hers for a night of instantly passionate sex. He's so excited it hardly seems strange he's kicked out before daybreak.

Walking home through the wrong side of town, he has a most thrilling encounter with three hoodlums trying to mug him, who are dispatched with bloody ease by a monstrous creature.

Of course, said beauty and said beast are the same character - Anna. Romantic Eastern Europe feel, superhuman strength, inability to be in the sun, ability to torn vulpine and feed on humans - these are attributes anyone like Josh, an Olympic-level sprinter, would desire. He certainly does, and when the crime scene Anna leaves in defence of him is investigated by the police, the pair match up and go on the run.

But the couple do not only have the cops to avoid - Anna is not unique. She and Jonus are the last of her species, and Jonus has a certain need to reunite with the woman who thought she had killed him a thousand years ago...

Several things in the narrative need to be convincing, coming as they do from an author from North West England. The US police procedural needs to be accurate, and there are times when it seems to be cribbed from crime TV, but on the whole it comes across as intelligent and factually sound. Balooga, the dodgily-named lead cop is a reasonable character, working with his colleagues in a common-sense way, until his unlikely epiphany and run to research vampire stories mid-way through.

The more important aspect, though, remains the nature of Anna, and Josh's love for her. Cave has given himself the unenviable task of getting inside Josh's head and portraying how he can be repulsed by her occasional bloodlust (and who wants a hairy girlfriend, after all?) and yet adore the human side to Anna. It is because of this, I think, Anna has become a complete mish-mash of different horror creatures - werewolf, vampire, shape-shifter, even succubus, as she has a sexual appetite to match her cravings for the claret.

I on the whole appreciated this invention (at least, I hope such a character is an invention), as Cave has stated his intention to recreate horror staples, and has succeeded here. His first effort was more of an action adventure story, but this one falls much more firmly into horror, and although providing no goose-flesh for this reader, it features enough gore, killings, mutilation and transformation scenes to make it quite gruesome.

I still have a few reservations about Cave's writing, and the length of his books. The extended flashback to Jonus and Anna's back story is too long, too full of jump-cuts between narratives, and the ending, as inconclusive as it needs to be, just doesn't work.

Also Cave's writing is still too dense for my personal taste, with well over half his nouns having adjectives ("a thick jet of crimson sprayed from the torn flesh, which covered the raised dais in a red veil" for instance - is there any other kind of dais?), but this floweriness is not that off-putting.

The opening two scenes, both featuring graphic sex, might make one think they'd stumbled upon the wishful writings of a teenage mind, but by the end of the book you're aware of having been entertained by this interesting mix of police chase, romance and horror. It is only to fans of the last genre that this would really appeal, but I am sure they would enjoy it, and consider like me the length of time before Paul Cave has a third novel published.

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