Friday, June 29, 2007

'Bitternest' by Alan Draven

Title: Bitternest
Author: Alan Draven
Price: $19.95
Genre: Horror
ISBN: 9780595432042
Publisher: iUniverse
Point of Sale: Amazon

A bird flu pandemic is rather more than decimating America. In the town of Bitternest the virus creates a new kind a vampire, one that can walk in the daylight and spread quickly through the town. The shops are looted and empty, the gangs and organised crime families are desperate but still at war, the cops are outnumbered and overstretched. Bitternest is caught between two contagions and it doesn't look like very many people are going to get out alive.

Detective Terry Graves has already lost his wife to the virus. He is approached by the few real vampires that remain with an offer to team up against the new 'blood mongers'. With almost every chapter new characters get added to the scenario and Bitternest continues to go, almost literally, to hell.

Terry Graves puts an interesting spin on the urban vampire and there are some clever 'reveals' and plot twists. But on the whole I felt Bitternest lacked coherence, lacked a feeling of a story that was progressing and a hero that was driving it. Some aspects just straight out didn't make sense to me such as a looted and terrified town in the middle of a deadly contagion throwing a fair and rock concert. Add to that Detective Graves was meant to have a role in keeping the event safe and utterly fails to even try to do so. He and his partner also apparently don't know the first rule of saving someone from bleeding to death (put pressure on the wound). Everyone in the story seemed to respect Detective Graves a great deal, but I didn't--and for that reason I had a lot of trouble maintaining my interest.

Bitternest is a book with some great ideas and some serious flaws including rampant info-dumping throughout. The book has a lot of energy and imagination and I did really want to like it, but in the end too many characters and not enough story-telling took its toll. Bitternest is worth a look if you are interested to see a new author take a stab at bringing something new to vampire fiction. His world and some of his mythos is intriguing. Based on this I would consider buying the author's next work to see if the good-to-bad ratio is improving with experience, but only after checking out the first chapter or two first.


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