Vampire$ - John Steakley The Good
The vampires: The vampires of John Steakley’s Vampires are TOUGH! At night they are nearly unstoppable killing machines, and even during the day, as long as they avoid direct sunlight, these SOBs are hard to kill. At one point, a master vampire has two arbalest bolts in him and falls 20 stories but still manages to walk away. It’s not hard to understand why these vampires would be at the top of the undead food chain.


The mental trauma: Steakley is at his best writing about the mental torture and damage vampire hunting does. Team Crow lives in a near constant state of combat; a perpetual free-fire zone. The author is very good at making you feel the terror, stress and confusion of the hunters as they face down their prey.

The Bad (or, more charitably, the not very good)
The story: Meh. I’ve read it before and, outside of the traumatic passages, the writing is just OK.

The characters: Steakley has a problem with women. At least, he has a serious problem depicting believable female characters. Annabelle is an impossibly good mother figure whose eventual self-sacrifice is meant to be emotionally wrenching but falls flat. Davette is a madonna/whore figure who’s as much a caricature as Annabelle. And her love-at-first-sight romance with Felix is ludicrous.

Plot hole: I’m sure there are more but this one is sticking in my craw: We’re to believe that after 2,000 years of fighting vampires, the Roman church’s operatives are so amateurish until Felix takes over the operation at the end?

Wouldn’t recommend the novel outside of readers who like the vampire genre and are tired of Twilight and its off-spring. Steakley can rise to emotionally torturous heights but there’s not enough writing here of that quality to make this anything more than an entertaining diversion.