Friday, June 6, 2008

They Thirst

In 1981, Robert R. McCammon, a young writer from Birmingham, Alabama who had published three solid three very solid but undistinguished horror novels, produced the vampire novel They Thirst, his breakthrough novel. It would propel him to great heights of popularity, finally landing McCammon second only to Stephen King among horror writers. Sadly, he quit writing in 1992, only recently returning with historical novels

I read it when the first paperback edition was released, and I’ve just finished reading it again. It holds up well. The book is something of a companion to King’s great Salem’s Lot, taking the central premise of Salem’s Lot – that if every vampire fed every night, and every victim also became a vampire, their numbers would increase geometrically, and humans would soon be overrun – and transferred it from a rural setting to urban Los Angeles. While not as strong as King’s book, it has the same sustained dread, as the human characters try to figure out what is going on against the backdrop of a rapidly ticking clock.

If the book has one problem it is the deus ex machina quality of its finale. Still, if horror novels are your thing, you need to read They Thirst

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