Monday, November 10, 2008

Book Review: Vampire Zero by David Wellington

Pennsylvania State Trooper Laura Caxton may have won the battle against vampires in the previous book 99 Coffins, but it certainly came at a price. Her mentor and foremost authority on vampires, Jameson Arkeley (who was the anti-hero of the 13 Bullets and 99 Coffins books), took on the vampire curse to protect Caxton and defeat the vampires. Problem is, he liked being a vampire a little too much. Now he’s gone rogue and it is up to Caxton to use everything he taught her to track him down…even when he knows all the tricks she can use. When Arkeley starts killing those that were near and dear to him, Caxton must fight with all he’s got to save his family as well as her own neck.

David Wellington is one of my favorite contemporary horror authors and I always eagerly await his new novels. I definitely wasn’t disappointed with Vampire Zero, an action-packed novel featuring likable characters, a fast moving plot and plenty of surprises.

The character of Laura Caxton, whom you’ll be familiar with if you’ve read the previous two books, is developed even more in Vampire Zero. Instead of the main protagonist being Arkeley, she is now in the spotlight. We also get to see the drive to hunt down vampires that Arkeley used to have transferred over to Caxton. Her sacrifices, both personal and professional, actually shine light on how much Arkeley had given up in the previous two novels in order to save the world from vampires. This was quite an interesting perspective and only goes to show how much humanity Arkeley lost after becoming a vampire.

Of course, there are plenty of new characters, like vampire wannabe Rexroth, who tricks Caxton into thinking he’s a real vamp in the exciting opening of the book. We also get to know Arkeley’s intriguing family member’s quite well – his brother Angus, son Simon, daughter Raleigh and wife Astarte. Some last longer than others, but all give an interesting, personal perspective on whom Arkeley really was when he was alive and human. Along with the new, Wellington brings back familiar characters, like Caxton’s sweet girlfriend Clara, the loyal cop Glauer, and the old vampire Justinia Malvern, who seems to be getting stronger and becoming more of a threat.

Wellington keeps the vampires vicious (just the way I like ‘em) as in his previous works. He even managed to make Arkeley’s transformation from vampire killer to killer vampire believable! One thing I do wish is that more time in the novel had been devoted to Arkeley as the vampire, but the perspective was solely from Caxton’s point of view.

The pacing throughout the book is just about perfect, with the action moving along at a quick clip. I love how the story just keeps snowballing and picking up speed until the big finale, which definitely delivers! Speaking of the finale, Wellington could not have picked a better place for the showdown between Caxton and Arkeley…just read it and see!

The novel is well laid out so that it could be read as a stand-alone novel, but it would help immensely if you read 13 Bullets and 99 Coffins before this one to better understand the complex relationship between Caxton and Arkeley. Plus, both are fine books and will satisfy horror fans’ voracious appetites. All in all, Vampire Zero is an exciting and thrilling new David Wellington novel that delivers the goods in rip-roaring fashion! The finale also leaves us hanging a bit, so I expect another vampire novel to follow this excellent one!

Available from Amazon!

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