by Michael P. Spradlin
Cover Artist: Don Sipley
Review by Steve Sawicki
Harper Voyager Mass Market Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 9780062023094
Date: 25 September 2012 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Jonas Hollister has found his place in the U.S. Cavalry after fighting in the civil war. His job is to keep the peace in the western territories, which mostly means dealing with Native Americans who aren't all that happy to see the white man encroaching further and further west. One day, while out on patrol, Hollister and his squad stumble upon a group of settlers' wagons that appear to have been ambushed.
Upon closer study though, Hollister notices some odd discrepancies. Before he can order his men clear, the dead rise and attack. They appear to be led by by a blood drinking demon. His men are ripped apart and Hollster has come face to face with the demon who is apparently in charge. As they grapple and Hollister prepares for death, he manages to pull his sword free and something in the action saves him. It does not save him from being court-martialed and being put in prison.
As the years pass, Hollister falls into a dull routine of keeping his mouth shut and getting by. Then, one day, Allan Pinkerton shows up and offers Hollister a job. A job hunting blood sucking demons. Thus begins a long strange tale for Hollister and the few who end up going with him.
This novel, which is loosely based on the Dracula legend, is a steam punk horror western that takes advantage of the current interest in vampires. For those that are familiar with Dracula there will be moments where Spradlin diverges that will cause some confusion. In fact, Spradlin would probably have been better served to ignore the Dracula legend and just create his own vampire universe. Too late for that though.
Spradlin moves things along pretty quickly except for a couple of slow spots in the middle of the book. The characters are interesting including the cameos by famous names such as Winchester and Pinkerton.
This is an interesting book, well written, with good characters who are doing interesting things. Spradlin creates a believable universe where the past is just that bit more technologically innovative than our own. I liked it, for the most part. The ending does leave room for sequels but that seems more the norm than the exception these days.
Recommended if you are looking for something different or if you just can't get enough of vampire themed fiction.