Editor: Christopher Golden
Publisher: Gallery Books (9/2015)
Plot Type: Vampire Horror
And now to the book: In his introduction, Christopher Golden provides the theme of this anthology: "Once upon a time, vampires were figures of terror...And they can be again." Yes, the vampires in this book are not glittery or chivalrous or love-struck. They are old-school, traditional vampiric monsters who are hungry for human blood. In preparing for this book, Golden challenged the authors "to strike back against the notion that the vampire has lost its ability to inspire fear." Golden explains that he doesn't have anything against vampire romances or vampiric heroes in urban fantasy, but "In Seize the Night…what matters is the terror."
THE BLOODSUCKERS: In addition to "normal" vampires, here are some of the nontraditional monsters you will meet in these stories:
THE RATINGS: I have tagged each story with my usual "violence" ratings. In addition, I have awarded quality ratings—"thumbs up" and "thumb's down" icons—to the best and worst of the stories. The two types of ratings are explained in greater detail below:
> Violence Ratings:
Summary: When a desperate young woman takes a job as caretaker to an elderly couple in rural Vermont, she finds herself inexorably entangled in the horrific ancient history of the town.
Summary: While catching fireflies in a jar, a 13-year-old girl gets caught in a fierce summer storm, with tragic results for herself and her family. Another great story from McGuire.
Gary A. Braunbeck: "Paper Cuts"
First Sentence: "They came for us, as they always did, when the sun shone high in the safe daytime sky."
Summary: After a boy dies under mysterious circumstances, a sixth-grade girl does some sleuthing and figures out that her teacher was involved in that death and others. Then, she and a classmate decide to do something about it. The premise has potential, but the story-telling is uneven, and Susan's improbably sophisticated epiphanies are not believable.
Summary: In this rambling tale, a woman looks back on her misspent life, lamenting the unluckiness of her family and wondering fearfully whether the monster from her childhood is still lying in wait.
Summary: A young girl longs to escape from her village, which is forced to make an annual animal sacrifice to appease the demon who lives in/on/under the desolate, rocky mound beyond their farmland. This year, the priest does not arrive in time to bless the sacrifice, so the townsfolk make an appalling, merciless decision on how to satisfy the monster's gruesome hunger.
Violence Rating: 4
Popular opinion about the cause of the vampire plague: "Two years since the first outbreak, and no one knew what actually caused vampirism….Of course, some people blamed the government. It was in the vaccinations or the water or the genetically modified food. What was the trigger? No one knew and frankly, it seemed like no one cared."
Summary: A female college student struggles to survive in a post-apocalyptic world that has been decimated by a vampire pandemic. Although the story is very dark and violent, the ending is quite satisfying, in a "revenge is best served cold" kind of way. This young lady would fit right in with Rick Grimes and his team.
Summary: During the uprisings that occurred in Medieval England during the reign of William the Conqueror (aka William the Bastard), a monk stumbles through snowy fields and forests and comes upon something much more dangerous than an army of human soldiers. This is one of the darkest and most violent of the stories.
Summary: This dark, hallucinatory story is a puzzler—written in a surreal style that moves back and forth in its point of view. Perhaps I missed something, but I'm not exactly sure how it fits into an anthology of vampire tales. The story involves two crazy mothers and their weird children. Also…rabbits.
Summary: When a desperate, unemployed corporate manager seeks a job with an exotic South American wheeler-dealer, her life changes forever. This one starts out stark and hopeless but keep reading for the vindictive twist at the end. This is an inventive take on the relationship between vampire sires and their "children."
Summary: A son follows his father into a mysterious tower that appears on their land and finds himself in the middle of a horrifying nightmare…or is it real? There is an inventive story here, but you have to slog through a deluge of exposition and a torrent of literary quotations to get to the heart or it.
Summary: Dr. Drinker, a professional cryptozoologist, gets more than he bargains for when he tries to outmaneuver his rival, a celebrity monster hunter who once stole Ed's research and palmed it off as his own work.
Summary: This is a story of forbidden love—a somewhat platonic affair between a secondary school teacher and his 16-year-old student. Unfortunately, the mythology is so undeveloped that I wasn't able to find a link between their Paris adventures and the vampire theme of this anthology.
Summary: Two years after the onset of a vampire plague, Louise's sister shows up to bring her back to her family. But what Louise discovers back at the family mansion is more horrific than anything she has seen during her years on the run. Great story. (NOTE: Click HERE to learn more about the connections between this story's King of Carcosa—aka the yellow king, H. P. Lovecraft, and Season 1 of True Detective.)
Summary: In this short, short story, Carter trudges through the post-apocalyptic Pacific Northwest in the wake of a plague that appears to have killed everyone else in the world. He'd give anything just to have someone to talk to. Immortality can be very lonely. (Not that it has anything to do with the story, but you can click HERE to hear Roy Orbison sing about loneliness.)
Summary: A jaded Toronto businessman tries to persuade a Filipino woman to vacate her property so that his company can build a huge complex on her hurricane-damaged forestland. What happens next is too horrific to describe here. This story has the highest violence rating and the highest sensuality rating. The ending is somewhat ambiguous, but I am pessimistic about David's wife's future. This is a fine example of Youers' top-notch horror fiction.
Summary: Two people—a truck driver and a hitchhiker—meet by chance, both driven by undeniable compulsions to fulfill separate tasks. A bleak Scandinavian horror story with an inventive take on the traditional vampire mythology.
Summary: After being painted blue and pushed into the Sacred Cenote (aka Sacred Well) as a sacrifice to Chaac, the rain god, a young girl faces a fate that is far worse than she ever imagined.