book review by Mark Heisey
“Lorena intuitively realized that something evil was afoot and standing directly in front of her.”
Blake Barker is busy managing a Woolworth store in Santa Fe when a hippie named Jody assumes the lotus
position outside, wearing nothing but a wifebeater. After cutting his palm with a strange obsidian knife, Jody
freezes to death on the sidewalk. Over the next four years, Blake must put up with members of a cult dedicated to Jody showing
up outside the store, attempting to emulate Jody’s demise. Finally, Blake has enough and moves his family to Las Cruces in
southern New Mexico. However, some of the more devout of those following Jody track Blake to his new town. In addition, his
family, with the help of Lorena, their live-in domestic, begins to raise alpacas and chickens. Things get weird when Ruby, one of
the devout that follows Blake, is discovered dead in front of his new place of employment with wounds on her neck and holding
the same obsidian knife. Then some of the alpacas are killed, and Lorena discovers that their chickens carry the virus that turns
others into vampires. She confirms this when she realizes their neighbor’s son, Romero Lopes, is now a “vampiro.” She tries to
tell the Barkers what is going on and protect them, but they tell her they don’t want any of her superstitions in their house.
Hill and Cavaretta combine the familiar story of the vampire with Hispanic folklore and modern medicine in this first volume of
their new series. By doing this, they both alter the typical Slavic version of the creature and attempt to make vampirism more
plausible through medical explanations. In addition, there is some discussion about the true nature of the individual infected by
the virus. Some infected do not immediately become sadistic human cannibals but find other ways to feed their blood hunger.
However, in the case of the antagonist, Romero, he is a dark person before he gets infected. Thus, the virus helps realize his
evil. Regarding the writing itself, the authors have composed a well-paced book with few grammatical mistakes, enabling readers
to enjoy a smooth read.
Horror fans, especially those into vampires, are obviously the target audience. The book has a similar amount of gore to many
works of the genre and recognizable evil as its antagonist. This book differs from the norm in its use of comedy and medical
terminology. The humor here is like a Tarantino film. Tarantino has excelled in creating movies that can be extremely violent and
dark and yet still have the wit and one-liners that make them stand out from other films. This novel attempts to work in the same
manner. As the story progresses, the humor at times seems to lose some of its original wittiness and become more sophomoric,
and much of the book’s closing section is a litany of medical terms attempting to explain the viability of vampirism intellectually.
However, those who appreciate a wide range of humor and are also intrigued by technical explanations of the fantasy elements in
their stories may find this novel fits the bill. In addition, many horror fans will be hooked by the cliffhanger at the book’s end and
eagerly await the next installment.
book review by Mark Heisey