Thursday, June 5, 2008

Vampyrrhic Rites

(Since Vampyrrhic Rites is a sequel to Vampyrrhic, the post below will necessarily contain spoilers. If you plan to read Vampyrrhic, it is advised you skip this one)

At the end of Vampyrrhic, the army of vampires had been defeated, although at a cost. Jack Black was dead, and the remainder of the four who banded together to stop the undead were scattered around England. When the new book opens, David Leppington is practicing medicine in London, while Electra Charnwood is still running the hotel in Yorkshire.

Although all the vampires were presumably destroyed, it turns out there was another group of them, sleeping at the bottom of a deep lake. Years later, they, too, are waking up, and the jaded crew from the first book have to return to the scene to stop them again. And people keep telling them they’ve seen their dead-and-dismembered comrade, Jack Black, walking around town.

Simon Clark is a very good writer, maybe the best British horror writer working today, and this isn’t a bad book. But where the first book made my all-time vampire novel list, this is merely okay. The pacing seems to be off. Once the book starts, readers are waiting for the surviving cast of the first book to return to Leppington, but this doesn’t happen until half way through, and there are other scenes that drag more than they need to. The subplot of the return of David’s schizophrenic girlfriend Katrina serves little purpose but to make the story longer. The returning character of Bernice isn’t given much to do (until the very end), and could have been omitted. And the ending involves a literal deus ex machina.

Despite these flaws, it was a pleasurable read. Clark is a gifted writer, and when things do happen in the book, the scenes are quite gripping. It just seems it was written more because a sequel was profitable, rather than inspired.

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