Wednesday, December 10, 2008

99 Coffins

99 Coffins is the middle book in Wellington’s ongoing vampire trilogy, following 13 Bullets. It picks up a few months after the events of the first book.

Laura Caxton, the young State Trooper in the first book, is back on the job with a nice promotion after her actions in the first book. She has also become something of a minor celebrity, since a movie has been made of her previous exploits. Her mentor/partner/antagonist from the first book, Jameson Arkeley, has been forced into retirement due to the injuries he suffered in ending the previous vampire threat. He is still the custodian of the body of the oldest living vampire, Justinia Malvern.

With Arkeley out of commission, Laura is seen as the prime expert on all matters vampiric, so when a college archeological team makes a gruesome discovery at the site of the Civil War Battle of Gettysburg, she is called in. They have discovered 99 coffins with the bones of vampires – and the shattered remains of a 100th coffin. There is an obvious likelihood that there is a new vampire on the loose. Laura has to turn to the manipulative Malvern for assistance – with a price – to stop the outbreak of a new vampire epidemic.

The book is fast-paced, and steadily accelerates until the climax, a pitched battle between outmanned cops and National Guardsmen, and a vampire army. As with the previous novel, Laura is a very appealing character, with strengths and flaws, and you can’t help but feel involved in her quest. There is an unexpected twist near the end that left me eager for the third novel in the trilogy.

Wellington’s version of the vampire legend has soon fascinating variations. His vampires are almost animalistic, and nearly unstoppable if they have fed. In a unique twist, vampires I this universe need progressively more blood to remain mobile, and older vampires become near invalids, confined to their coffins. They can only be killed by the total destruction of their hearts.

If you are interested in this book, you should really read 13 Bullets first. 99 Coffins can be read as a stand-alone, but your enjoyment will be higher if you read them in sequence. I can’t recommend these books highly enough.

The author, David Wellington, has followed an unusual path to success. His earlier books, including the zombie trilogy Monster Island, Monster Nation, and Monster Planet were first offered as serialized free downloads through his website. This is normally seen as a poor way to build a readership (most people regard free things as worth what they paid for them), but it has paid of for him. Visit his website at


John Hornor Jacobs said...

I've read this one. I should add it to my Books of 2008 list.

I had one quibble about the books. No one ever questioned the reality of the vampires. I read 13 Bullets as well, but that was a smaller story. 99 Coffins almost seemed like a alternate history, where vampires existed and it was common knowledge rather than make-believe. Anywho, that was my only reservation on otherwise as great adventure.

KentAllard said...

I read these more as gonzo horror adventure novels than anything else, and they work well at that. I've got Vampire Zero and will be reading that soon. Don't know why I'm reading so many vampire-themed stuff lately.