Something of the Night by Paul Cave

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Something of the Night by Paul Cave

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Category: Horror
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: John Lloyd
Reviewed by John Lloyd
Summary: After a meteor impact turns the climate into a nuclear winter, vampires have the upper hand, until a handful of the remaining humans fight back. This book doesn't work as horror, but is a good adventure read.
Buy? Maybe Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 380 Date: August 2006
Publisher: Apex Publishing Ltd, Essex
ISBN: 978-1904444725

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Earth, the near future. The climate has been changed to one of permanent darkness following a meteor impact. The humans that are left are confined to underground complexes, mostly because the surface is now the territory of armies of vampires, led by warriors with Old Testament names. Some of the humans can, and do, manage to fight back - trackers to follow the vampire leaders and assassinate them, mechanics to repair what hardware can still be fuelled, and those human leaders who still have to think about fleeing, when the nasties bear down on the subterranean base in a pincer movement.

I could further identify the characters in this book, and give pencil outlines as to who they are and what they do, but it wouldn't be worth it. The characters are just types (feisty teenage warriors battling their own young love, vulnerable young girls), and their motivation is simply to win, tempered by the fact that with so few humans left, most are in some way related to the rest. It's not that the characters are too shallow, or not thought out, but they are of the Hollywood basic template kind.

What I will say is that this book is being wrongly marketed as a horror. With its cover - a vampiric skull, bewisped by ether leering at you from the dark, it surely looks like a horror. I see this as more of a fantasy adventure, however. While it does feature horror elements - the dark, vampires, packs of intelligent wolves, concentration camps (and when listed like that it sounds over-cooked, but it isn't) - nothing ever makes you look over your shoulder. There are death, decay and body parts, but it becomes quite clear early on that no named characters will suffer an unheroic death (not even the annoying anthropomorphised dog) and the story has a wider, epic feel.

The narrative in fact, is quite wide-ranging, what with some humans going off on some task or other, more on other duties, and yet more humans chasing one of the other groups to put them to rights. At times the inter-cutting is poorly done, with somewhat arbitrary breaks from one narrative to the other, and this makes the pace race early on, and flag in the middle third. There are a couple of other problems with the writing - tiny repetitions, and so on, but on the whole it's competently handled.

It is a minor point of interest that a debutante author from the North West has decided to set his story in North America (chasing the dollar above the pound, perhaps), but apart from the Empire State Building being a main location the scenery is really just Anywheresville. The characters are of a simplified type, the setting also, but there is enough in the story to show individual touches. I can see this being on the airport genre shelves, and doing quite well.

It should be fifty pages shorter, it should be rebranded, but for those who like a meaty adventure story it should certainly be considered.

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