A hapless theatre worker becomes one of the nocturnal world’s most powerful vampires.
Galloway’s debut vampire novella wastes no time with exposition; the story opens as the protagonist, a theatre maintenance man, is feasted on by a gang of vampire bats in the subbasement. It’s a strange scene, especially given that it’s related in first-person. Bats pin the narrator down with the strength of oxen, while the larger leader of the group stalks around as he waits for the coup de grace. In a last ditch attempt to assert himself before death, the narrator sinks his teeth into the lead bat, unintentionally absorbing the power of one of the most ancient vampires in the world. Out of pity, he then feeds a bat named General, who clues him in to the workings of the bat order and eventually becomes the hero’s right-hand bat. The powerful vampire bat whose soul the narrator absorbed, however, is brother to an ancient evil, the king bat; he is none too pleased to hear of his brother’s fate. Conveniently, all vampire bats are linked telepathically; the narrator is aware that, in Romania, the king bat is assembling a force of 8,000 bats to traverse the Atlantic and destroy this upstart and his new crew. As he awaits their arrival, the narrator feasts on animals to absorb their strength and on doctors to absorb their knowledge. He also turns his theatre co-workers into vampires, with little protest. There’s very little of the existential struggle found in most modern vampire tales—everyone here is more than happy to become undead. The hero hardly thinks twice about most of his actions, which makes him oddly likable. It’s a wild romp, and at times bathetic: “The high-powered vacuums in their mouths began to drink my blood. This was really pissing me off.” There are also some awkward and distracting grammar mistakes. But the fate of the novel’s hero is bolder than most commercial novels would dare. Readers will delight in this wild, often wacky new addition to the vampire mythos.
Stylistic oddities aside, this book is never anything less than entertaining.