Vampire horror – Dunraven Road
Vampire horror: Dunraven Road is a refreshing change of pace from the bloated, sugary-sweet Twilights of this world. A novel about the often bittersweet pain of passionate love set against a backdrop of sadism, vampires, drug abuse and violent inhumanity.
To read Dunraven Road is to peer into the often anarchic world of today’s disaffected twenty-somethings. The novel revolves around a group of hedonistic friends – Zach, Kirsty, Sapphire, Justin and Paul. Zach is a local drug dealer who takes great pleasure in watching other peoples’ pain and suffering; particularly Paul’s, a drug-addicted artist at odds with the ‘normal’ world of nine to five endorsed by his estranged parents; and hopelessly infatuated with Sapphire. Put-upon Kirsty is desperately lacking in self-esteem and so grateful for Zach’s affection she ignores his sadistic nature to do anything he asks of her. While Sapphire, though aware of his many faults, is also firmly in his thrall. Love is blind and brutal – and Sapphire will do anything to be near her dark paramour; even if it means deceiving his best friend, well-meaning Justin. This then, is the human font Zach is able to draw upon. Even Justin, the only character with any sort of respectable job and therefore a future, partakes of the drugs he peddles – a thick, blood-like substance called red. And as for Zach? He simply wants to create a secret vampire cult and rule over a legion of followers. All this before the vampires even arrive.
There has been a great deal of vampire fiction floating about lately. Unfortunately, most of it has been watered down and puerile; the vampires poor shadows of the vile demons they once were. Not so in Dunraven Road. These vampires don’t want to be your lover. They don’t want to protect you or fall in love and initiate you into their world of eternal night. They would much rather rip your throat out and drink from you until you’re empty. The vampire has returned.
There are a great deal of characters to follow during the course of the novel, particularly once the ‘real’ vampires are introduced, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Instead, the constantly changing point of view creates a fast-paced story, rich in a plethora of human emotion. I especially liked the vampire characters Dylan; and twins Ewry and Spratz. Dylan was a refreshing change to most modern creatures of the night, delighting in the kill and feeling no remorse or human guilt, yet remaining charismatic at the same time.
The evil vampires of The Ancient Order have an interesting back story, firmly rooted in the twenty-first century – an age when CCTV and DNA testing has made their night time activities all but impossible. A second group of vampires have found a way to survive without drinking blood, making them their mortal enemies. I would like to have seen the characters of The Ancient Order fleshed out further, as I was left wanting to know more about them and their mysterious, hidden lives.
The pace of Dunraven Road intensifies when Sapphire and Paul realise there are indeed real demons among them. Without wanting to give too much away, there are some shocks when certain secret identities are revealed and the conclusion sees Sapphire’s emerging powers come to the fore.
The epilogue may seem twee, even too good to be true after the explosive events it precedes, but I believe it makes a poignant statement about Dunraven Road’s core message. Most Gen-X’rs, once they’ve come through those turbulent, life changing years, ultimately want the security provided for them by their parents as they grew up. The flipside being there are those who did not grow up with that stability and have no guidance or point of reference to call upon, so they are still out there, struggling on.
Dunraven Road by Caroline Barnard-Smith is a refreshing change of pace from the bloated, sugary-sweet Twilights of this world. A novel about the often bittersweet pain of passionate love set against a backdrop of sadism, drug abuse and violent inhumanity – this will appeal to fans of real vampires with bite.
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