One of the gifts I got for Christmas was the Encyclopedia of Vampire Mythology by Theresa Bane. I haven't read it cover to cover yet, but the ideas inside it are astounding and horrific. As I was skimming it, my mind went back to an anthology I recently read by Jonathan Maberry, titled V-Wars. The book is filled with new and different kinds of vampires emerge from a single mutated virus, and each one has its own bloody story to tell. Similar to Max Brooks's World War Z, there are different stories, timelines and characters, though it all plays back to the main story of the book, and ultimately, the world. Vampire lovers like me will find this collection unique, exciting, and in some cases, unexpected.
|I didn't notice the vampire bites on the lower part of the globe! Awesome!|
When melting Artic ice releases a virus it triggers dormant genes from junk DNA. The genes that once created vampires. Now, all over the world, people are beginning to transform. To develop unnatural and unstoppable hungers. Are they still human? Or is there now a brand new link in the food chain?
The world is filled with vampire legend. Each culture with its own unique brand of blood-thirsty killer, but the stories aren't mere myth. Strange, savage, immensely powerful, and driven by a need to feed on human blood - vampires are returning.
V-Wars is the chronicle of the first vampire war. From the savage murders committed by the patient zero of the plague to full-out battles with vampire terrorist cells, these are the stories of the most terrifying war mankind has ever faced.
The vampire wars have begun. The world will scream. . .
The collection begins with "Junk" by Maberry himself, the recollection of a down-on-his-luck artist who spends his time working at Starbucks and taking advantage of young women. Yup. That's where we're starting. He's not a great guy, but he does not deserve to have a monstrous vampire gene awaken inside him and turn him into a bloodthirsty monster. From there, the virus spreads to different corners of the American states, and even a little further than that. The strain even awakens genes for other monsters, such as demons and werewolves. It's a brewing supernatural war, and all that anyone can do is run, hide, and hope not to get eaten.
The authors each created a story, but the chapters of each story were split and placed in different sections of the book. For me, that was the major drawback. Some of the stories were really compelling and exciting, and I wanted to see how they would end. Maybe it's because I'm one of those readers who has to read everything in order, but I felt that splitting the stories and their chapters up was confusing and a little weird at some points. Granted, the timeline was important, but I think the anthology would have been stronger the stories were in one piece rather than thrown every which way.
That being said, the stories that were submitted were very, very strong. "Junk" is by far the most powerful, and perhaps the scariest, but I really enjoyed "The Stalking of Anna Lei," the story of a vampire desperate to save his sister from something decidedly not vampire, and "The Ballad of Big Charles," a tale about a big-hearted politician who comes out as being a werewolf. The main character in "The Stalking of Anna Lei" was funny and easy to relate to, and the conspiracies and traps in "The Ballad of Big Charles" led to some surprising twists, and gave a clear insight as to what people would think if a beloved politician declared himself to be a supernatural creature right before the re-election.
Every story was exceedingly well written, and what I loved most about them was the way different mythologies and cultures were brought into the story. They weren't chosen randomly, and the creatures not only fit into the story, they added unpredictable elements of horror and excitement to the anthology. By the end, all I could think of was how I wanted more.
I never really got the feeling that I was reading a supernatural war. I hoped there would be more stories about soldiers fighting on the front lines of a paranormal battle, but as a huge fan of all things vampire (Twilight doesn't count, we all know that), I found this to be a fun read, and would recommend it to those who enjoyed World War Z and other vampire fanatics like me. It's a nice reminder that while zombies can be scary, if vampires attack, we are so screwed.