Charles Jackson is a British military doctor in Paris right after the liberation of the city during World War II. While exploring the newly freed streets, he peeks into an abandoned bunker and sees a man sucking the blood out of a corpse. Charles has no idea what he’s looking at. Is this a vampire? A murderer? A regular person driven crazy by war? Or something much, much worse? He devotes the rest of his life to finding out.
I have some mixed feelings about this one. It definitely reminded me of classic horror stories, so if you like the older stuff, you’ll probably enjoy this book. The writing style feels a bit old fashioned, but not overly old fashioned, which I enjoyed. The book is dark and filled with twists that the reader won’t see coming. The “vampire,” is pretty sinister. When he discovers that Charles is hunting him, he’ll do anything to get away, including sabotaging Charles’s career and murdering his friends. Charles can’t do anything about it because people question his sanity when he claims that a vampire is after him.
Charles is a strange character. He’s a little flat in the personality department, but he’s a classic horror antihero. He wants to do the right thing and sort out what he saw in the bunker in France, but he doesn’t always go about it in the right way. For example, he’s a creeper who will follow strangers across countries and have sex with suspicious women in allies. To get the information he wants, he’ll even resort to murder. As the novel progresses, his obsession with killing the vampire spirals out of control. Then, some odd things happen.
As always, Marcus Sedgwick’s writing style is engaging and quick to read. I finished most of this book in a day, and it was entertaining, but I still feel very “Meh” about it. I didn’t hate it, but it didn’t leave a huge impression on me. I think I was underwhelmed because this book doesn’t do anything I haven’t seen before. Above all, the story is about obsession, which is a very common horror theme. The author explores the theme nicely, but I was expecting more. I wanted something a little different. This book is almost like a retelling of classic vampire stories, but it’s not quite a strict retelling.
I had a few other issues with the book. The plot takes a very long time to get going. Once it does get moving, it goes quickly, but I still spent a lot of the novel waiting for something to happen.
Also, there is a surprising amount of untranslated French dialogue. This makes sense because most of the story is set in France, and the narrator isn’t completely fluent in French, but I felt like I was missing something. I don’t know any French.
I guess I don’t have too much to say about this book. It’s a quick and entertaining way to spend a few hours, but I wish it had given me more to think about.