Tuesday, May 20, 2008


At the end of last year, a much-appreciated Christmas present from my Beautiful Wife was a year’s membership in the Cemetery Dance Book Club. For just under $200, counting shipping & handling, you would receive 13 books on a monthly schedule. It sounded and has been a great deal. At the time, BW asked me what I would most like to get through the club. I looked through their list of upcoming titles and said “Either Vampyrrhic or Vampyrrhic Rites by Simon Clark, but it won’t happen. Those will be too popular to be included.” I was pleasantly surprised when Vampyrrhic turned out to be the third selection.

I’ve always thought every horror writer will eventually write a vampire novel. The vampire is just such a staple of the genre, they can’t resist forever. King (Salem’s Lot), McCammon (They Thirst), Garton (Live Girls) and others have all taken their shot at the fanged creatures. The trick of course, is to try to come up with a new take on such a familiar character.

Vampyrrhic eschews all the conventional origins of vampires. It takes place in the smallish English town of Leppington, in the North Yorkshire Moors. Unbeknownst to the current residents, a thousand years earlier, the last of the adherents of the old Norse Gods made a pact with them, in which they would overthrow Christendom at the head of an army of the undead. Due to an accident at the ceremony, the uprising never happened, and the undead were trapped in the ground beneath Leppington. Prophecy stated that a thousand years later, the descendent of the founder of the town, and the guy who was to lead the vampire army, would return, and the undead would come out of the ground. As the novel begins, Dr. David Leppington returns to his namesake town, and guess how long it’s been since the aborted ceremony? That’s right, a thousand years. Before you know it, the sewer-dwelling living corpses are turning the locals into Nosferatu.

Much of the story takes place in a near-deserted hotel, and there are some real chills as the few residents of the hotel hear footsteps in the hallways at night while they remain locked in their rooms. Vampyrrhic, which is also available from Leisure Books as a mass-market paperback, is the talented Simon Clark at his best.

The sequel, Vampyrrhic Rites, will also be featured here in the days to come.

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