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VAMPYRRHIC By Simon Clark – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 18, 2010 by stanleyriiks

I quite enjoyed this. It’s not normally my kind of thing, it’s a gentle, old-skool horror novel.

The premise is excellent, Thor (from Norse mythology) made a pact with a family a thousand years ago and gave them a vampire army to destroy all of Christendom. Unfortunately the family didn’t stick to the plan, and now, a thousand years later, David Leppington has returned to the family home to find that he is the last of the line, and expected to take control of the vampire army on its unending march to domination of the Christian world.

That would have been a great book. Unfortunately what we get is this great idea as the back-story. The main plot concerns David Leppington returning to his hometown, the town of Leppington, named after his family, and discovering the legend of Thor’s vampire army from his uncle, and then attempting to destroy the army before they begin their attack.

The first two thirds of the book set up the story as we are gradually given more information about the legend and the town. The story slowly and gently unravels, the vampires begin to escape and attack the human population of Leppington, but it isn’t until the uncle blows a hole in the bars imprisoning the creatures that the action kicks up a notch and David and his new-found friends, must fight for their lives.

Clark is a writer of such potential, as shown by the premise. But here he’s missed a massive opportunity. The book we’re given is in no way as exciting, entertaining or as passionate as it could have been. It seems this is a much more traditional, staid, and middle-of-the-road novel, playing safe rather than provoking any kind of emotion.

The writing isn’t Clark at his best either, his characters are all weak, limp-wristed, wet-wipes. Nothing there to incite any feeling.

Still, being the wrong book, a massive missed opportunity, a complete failure in potential, this still isn’t such a bad book. It certainly doesn’t have much going for it; but it’s a good little standard horror novel, similar to what Richard Laymon used to churn out endlessly.

Typical low-impact horror.

DARKER By Simon Clark – Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 6, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Richard Young, his wife and their four year old daughter Amy wave off Mark, their eldest child as he goes camping with friends. Little knowing that this week, while their son is away, they will be in a race for their lives across the UK, fighting to stay alive as they are chased round the country by a huge, invisible, crushing thing. They are joined in their plight by a multi-millionaire, Michael, who believes what he calls “the beast” can be controlled and he has a team of scientists trying to work out how to contain the ancient power.

This has a fairly slow start, not really much happening for the first sixty or seventy pages, as everyone is introduced and the happy family angle is played up. But when the action does kick it it’s full steam ahead, a frantic chase as the beast chases the family and their visitor Michael, who drip-feeds them information. All the while they are also chased by Rosemary Snow who is somehow linked to Amy, and knows just what a bad man Michael really is. He tried to kill her.

Mmm… While you’re reading this it’s actually quite good, typical thriller, full-on action which doesn’t give you a chance to think. You go along with the story because it keeps you entertained, you ignore the implausibility because it’s fun, you ignore the lack of good characters because the story sweeps you up. And it really does, despite its many errors and mistakes, and a complete disregard for the use of the comma, the story sweeps you up like a whirlwind, swings you round and won’t let you go till it’s finished with you and chucks you out the other end! Ok, so we don’t really care what happens to these people, the explanations are fairly implausible and at times ridiculous, as though the plot hasn’t really been thought out that much. But this is like a rollercoaster ride of a novel, you enjoy it while you’re enthralled in the action, despite the fact you’re left wondering “was that it?” at the end.

Clark is a much better writer than this book shows him to be. Fun, exciting, but lacking in substance.