by Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn, Jeff Strand, F. Paul Wilson
You know those dark Disneyland rides…the ones where you sit in some cute little vehicle and slowly cruise past light and happy fantasy scenes, one after the other?
Well, Draculas is like that…if the car was going 100 miles an hour and every scene contained gore and guts and somebody dismembering somebody else. ;)
I really enjoyed Draculas, and that honestly surprised me a bit. Not because of the authors…the four authors are experienced professionals. I’m just not that much of a gore hound, and I kind of thought it might be like that.
It is gory, but fortunately, it’s also funny. It walks a difficult line deftly…it isn’t a parody, but it was so fast and so unbelievable that it may be the first “feel good horror” novel I’ve ever read.
Unbelievable is not a bad thing here…it’s well-written. There are great characters, and memorable scenes. It’s just that the monsters are entertainingly unreal and the lines too clever to be real dialogue. The flash-flash-flash rat-a-tat pacing was aided by the way the book was written. Each author took some characters and wrote their POV (Point of View) scenes. This gives us a constantly shifting, kaleidoscopic view of the action. The amazing thing is that the book all holds together very well…even if you know all four authors, you’ll have trouble telling who wrote what.
If you’ve ever tried to collaborate with somebody at work, you may be wondering how they could possibly do that. :)
Well, they’ve done some very interesting things with this book. One is that they included their collaborative messages to each other. Through hundreds of e-mails (some quite funny), you can follow the development. I have to say, it was a little bit weird reading those…because the whole process happened so quickly. It starts in March of this year…before word one is written. You can see the outline come together, the beats discussed, the characters, the corrections, the floated ideas, and so on. I found that fascinating. I did get a little worried as we got into October of this year, though…I had this weird feeling that I was going to just keep reading into the future and find out how I was going to die or something. ;)
As they discussed with each other, they made this like a DVD with extras. There is an alternate ending, deleted scenes, book excerpts, and more. I do want to say, someone who thought Draculas was fun might be offended by the short story Serial (included in the e-book) by Crouch and Konrath. It doesn’t have the fantasy element that made Draculas work for me. It’s simply what I call EBHB (Extremely Bad Human Behaviour). Those kind of stories have never been my cup of tea…or, um, bodily fluid. ;)
The Draculas story itself is funny, gory, and has characters you’ll enjoy. It’s clever and visceral, an uncommon combination. There is plenty of explicit violence…but it’s silly, like an R-rated Wile E. Coyote cartoon. It’s much more Charles Band than George Romero…and if you know who those are, this is definitely a book for you.
They wisely didn’t include explicit sex scenes…of course, since almost nobody stands still for very long, there wasn’t much opportunity. But the female characters are as strong as the male ones…that that keeps it out of Troma territory. If you can deal with a lot of inside-out anatomy, you’ll find characters you like.
I’m very careful about spoilers, so I don’t want to say much about the plot. I will say that a Kindle makes an appearance…and in a natural way, one that makes sense. Of course, so does a chainsaw (and a lot of big, big guns). :)
As I mentioned in this earlier post, you can make a statement against the Agency Model (if that’s how you feel) by buying this book. A lot of people have: it’s #66 paid in the Kindle store at time of writing. It’s published outside the traditional publishers…even though the authors could have easily sold it. It’s important to note that these are experienced writers who know what works: somebody just trying it out would be in more need of a skilled editor. They were also smart enough to hire a proof-reader…I only found a couple of tiny errors…no more than I would have found in a traditional publisher’s paper edition. I’ll send those to them…but I wanted to do the review first, so they don’t think I’m just a nitpicker. :)
For full disclosure, I’ll point out that they sent me a free review “copy”. I did have to request it…they had sent out 260 review copies to bloggers and such, but I apparently wasn’t one of those. I’m tempted to just sign this as #261. ;) However, I’m not egotistical enough to think they should have sent me one or known who I am. I’m grateful every time you read this (well, I assume you read it…I’m not spying on you or anything), and I’m happy to be part of the Kindle community…but that doesn’t mean New York Times bestselling authors should have any idea who I am. :)
Bottom line: Draculas is a fun and gory ride. I recommend it.
This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.