I enjoy reading all kinds of books but the ones I enjoy the most are the ones that have a good mix of horror and comedy. This is not a combination you can always find but Dracula Transformed & Other Bloodthirsty Tales by Mark McLaughlin and Michael McCarty is one of those books that can scare you and make you laugh. Here we have ten short stories and one novella which puts Dracula in the present day with new powers that we’ve never seen before.
The reason I wanted to read this was because I love Dracula and any movie or book that has the character catches my interest. Also I’m familiar with the work of both authors and knew it would be a fun ride. Right off the bat in the first story they address one of the issues with the original Dracula novel. In Bram Stoker’s novel we get points of view from several characters but we don’t hear much from Dracula. In Lucy Transformed we hear part of the story in Dracula’s own words via letters to his daughter. Needless to say Dracula looks at the events of the book a little differently than the other characters do. Maybe Dracula wasn’t a villain after all and just doing what vampires are supposed to do.
Two other the stories that stick out in the book are Dracula Has Risen From The Couch and Incident In The Back Of A Black Limousine. In the first story set in the present we see a very different Dracula then we are used to. He is kind of lazy and he finds out his wives are cheating on him, but he doesn’t really care enough to get off the couch until they decide to kill him. In the second story also in the present we see Dracula has fallen on hard times and now works as a pimp calling himself Big Daddy. For both of these we see a Dracula that we haven’t seen before and get to laugh at the idea that Dracula may not fare to well in the modern world.
In what is the main event in this little anthology, we have the novella Dracula Transformed which shows us Dracula resurrected in the present by a cult and given the powers of the monsters from Greek Mythology. All of the characters from Dracula are here through reincarnation and Van Helsing never died. I love that Dracula gets his power from hearing the sins of others and I loved hearing that Renfield is now a goth rock superstar. We also have another character from history that is still making a good living in Las Vegas. The best part though is hearing how Dracula acts when he hears someone talk who has no sin.
Dracula Transformed is a must read if you loved the Bram Stoker book or any of the various movies that have had Dracula in them over the years. Not only is it a fresh spin on a character that has been around for over 100 years, it’s a lot of fun for anyone who has a love for monsters and mythology. My only complaint was that some of the short stories contained an idea but no real story and I would have liked the main story to be longer and have a little more suspense. All in all though the book is a lot of fun and I look forward to reading more from both authors.
There are more vampires in the world then anyone knows about. The most powerful vampire in the world is Cicatrice and he secretly rules the city of Las Vegas. The vampires are being killed off though and not just by the vampire hunters who have pledged their lives to destroy the undead. There is a supernatural serial killer on the loose and Cicatrice believes it could be the legendary and ancient Hunter Of The Dead.
A vampire civil war has begun and when there are too many vampires in the same area the hunter of the dead rises to destroy all supernatural creatures. Cicatrice decides the best way to handle it is to team up with vampire hunter Carter Price. Together they form a plan that will kill several vampires and put an end to the Hunter Of The Dead. With a bloody vampire war in full swing and Cicatrice and Carter’s apprentices falling in love, stopping the hunter may be an impossible task.
Hunter Of The Dead by Stephen Kozeniewski is a blood drenched treat for vampire fans. This horror novel creates a great spin on vampire mythology and has some great action scenes. The mythology behind the hunter is fascinating and the way he is described in this book makes him sound like he could make the four horseman run away in fear. The prologue to this book is like a self-contained story that really hooks you into reading the full book. The imagery is creepy with scenes like a ghoul eating someone and a battle between vampires and the hunter which is beautifully done. The beginning of this book would make a great horror film.
The problem I had with this book was that there was too much going on. There was enough material in this book for three books and I didn’t like how the story kept switching to different locations, characters and time periods. What I liked most was the relationship between Cicatrice and his apprentice Idi-Han and Carter Price and his assistant Nico. Whenever the focus changed to someone else I was just wanting to get back to those four. There was also a romantic relationship between Nico and Idi that could have been good but seemed too rushed. I enjoyed this book but I felt it would have been better if it just focused on Idi, Cicatrice, Nico and Carter dealing with the hunter and left out the civil war and vampire politics.
Hunter Of The Dead has the feel of a comic book. What I mean is you can easily visualize the action in your head and the story moves along at the speed of a freight train. Stephen Kozeniewski does an excellent job describing violent battle scenes. I loved how the vampires do severe damage to each other such as breaking bones and crushing organs only to heal instantly. It also has some good humor to it such as when a human tied to a table is offered as a birthday cake to a vampire who takes a bite and then offers all the other vampires a bite. It also has some moments of great horror such as when a recently turned vampire realizes that she is eating her father without knowing it. Hunter Of The Dead is a book that vampire fans should not pass up.
There are a lot of different takes on vampires. In Cause Of Death:Unnatural by Eliza Ford, the lead character is a vampire and a forensic pathologist. She is like no vampire that I’ve ever read about. Usually when I hear about a book that has a vampire in it I would think it was a horror novel. but Cause Of Death is more of an urban fantasy mystery with some horror elements.
Em is a 1000 year old vampire who has decided to live among humans. She belongs to a clan called The Family which are some of the oldest beings on Earth. Em and the vampires like her, can use dark matter and they are superior to common vampires who only drink blood and they are far superior to other dark creatures. Em is half human so she feels more comfortable living among humans. To sustain herself Em drinks the occasional pint of blood along with eating human souls but she can eat human food as well.
No human knows she is a vampire and the job as forensic pathologist is the perfect job for someone who knows death so well. Lately Em has been investigating some dead bodies that were found near a Night Club that just opened. She finds that the Night Club is operated by a vampire who was a former lover of her father. To make matters worse, Em’s former lover Jarek has come to town to look into the vampire owned Night Club and hopefully lure Em back to him. Em has to find the killer and decide if she wants to keep living among the humans.
Cause Of Death: Unnatural is an original look at vampires. I liked how there were different classes of vampires and I liked the idea that there was a different realm that the beings who used dark matter can live in. I thought it was interesting that Em was in a love triangle with two humans while also trying to decide if she wants to go live with Jarek in the dark matter realm. Another thing that I liked was when Em describes what vampires look for in humans and says some are hamburger and some are steak.
My favorite part of the book was when Em finds a cancer cell in a family member of a friend and is able to kill the cell with her dark matter, she then gives her views on how she feels about humans. There was also a fight scene with Jarek that was excellent. The characters in this book were great and the story was well told but it could have been better.
I would have liked to hear more about Em’s vampire family, it is touched on but more detail would have been nice. I also wanted to know more about how dark matter worked. The story itself was good but a little predictable and the final fight scene wasn’t long enough but I did like her revelation on why she loved humans so much. Even though I had my issues with this book I still liked it and would like to see more of these characters. This is the first book in a series, I like the concept and I get the impression it will get better as it goes along.