Allen Gilbreath

Kerlak Publishing / Dark Oak Press / 250 pages / (November 23, 2012)


If you like your vampires of the suave, superhuman, seductive variety, here is a book to add to your already overflowing library. Galen Mircalla, the undead sex machine of this novel, is one of the smoothest characters to come along in a while. Never before has there been a better personification of the James Thurber line, “He’s so charming he gives you the creeps.” Of course, it gives his attraction a boost if the victims are desperate and no real competition for the Nobel Prize in economics.

Fortunately for Mircalla, there seems to be no shortage of these dupes around.

But, before you get to the sex, violence, and gore, there are some hazards to navigate. Gilbreath’s dialogue is stiff and overly correct — sort of like the English-speaking aliens that populate science fiction films. You know, those grammar book aficionados who never met a contraction they would use. Real people take language shortcuts whenever possible, and the well-placed “won’t,” “can’t,” and “wouldn’t” go a long way toward creating dialogue that rings true.

And, make up your mind ahead of time to forgive Mircalla’s female conquests for their lack of street smarts. The dating scene is apparently worse than everyone says. That’s the only excuse for falling for the serial-killer tactics he employs; these folks should see the warning signs flashing across town.

These, though, are small sins and easily forgotten and forgiven under the hold of the fast-moving plot. Galen is one of those lightning reads that keeps you up until way past your bedtime. “Just ten more pages” turns into three more chapters. And then you’re done.

One of the aspects of Galen that will keep you reading long into the night, is the presence of the details that make Mircalla different from most vampires you come across in literature. This is not a coffin-dwelling prisoner of the night. He traipses about during the day, he eats normal food, he has an accounting firm looking after his interests, and he has the tactics and planning of the long-term serial murderer. Mircalla is a killer with no desire to be caught, unlike the messy bloodsuckers of the past who leave trace evidence behind with no concern for being tracked down.

His caution and skepticism of the modern world have kept him safe and alive for a long time. Too bad he is about to meet up with someone who isn’t buying into his urbane act. Mircalla’s going to be very sorry he crossed paths with Maggie DeVane, one of the strongest female leads in the genre. She’s smart, she’s suspicious, and she has a score to settle. Not exactly the kind of woman this vampire is looking for.

It’s fast. It’s fun. It’s just a touch trashy. And, it’s the first volume of a saga. I, for one, look forward to the next instalment.