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This issue's cover illustration is from Lia's Guide to Winning the Lottery by Keren David. Thanks to Frances Lincoln for their help with this July cover.
By clicking here you can view, print or download the fully artworked Digital Edition of BfK 189 July 2011.
So you thought vampires were on their way out? You thought wrong. Will Hill’s gore-soaked debut novel imagines that everything Bram Stoker wrote is true. Though Dracula is now dead (or is he?), his ruthless, original, Transylvanian associates still stalk the earth, preying on the innocent and gathering an increasing number of deadly acolytes. Unbeknownst to the ordinary people of the world, Department 19 has been waging a fierce, high-tech, global war against this deadly force of the undead for over one hundred years, led by the descendants of the original vampire hunters. 16-year-old Jamie Carpenter has no idea that he is one of them, until his father – secretly a Department 19 operative – is shot dead, and his mother kidnapped by the most merciless vampire of all. Soon he has joined the struggle, and is fighting for both their lives.
There’s a clever concept at work here, and for the most part this gripping novel is extremely well executed. It’s the quantity and nature of the executions themselves that leaves me a little squeamish. It’s not that I mind blood, and I know that many teenage novels hook readers with more than a passing nod to the fast-paced world of computer games. But the sheer quantity of ripped-out throats, exposed entrails, exploding vampires and fountains of gore paraded in scene after scene deadened the effect of the terror for me in a way that detracted from the otherwise high quality of this novel. Instead of seeking to replicate the level of on-screen carnage, I personally prefer to see writers working on the imagination with a subtlety that creators of computer games cannot employ. Otherwise, what next? Black Ops meets Nosferatu?