Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Review: A Light Against The Darkness

A Light Against The Darkness
A.R. Hill
Available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble on line.

Good morning constant reader.

If you like a fresh look at the vampire mythos, with lots of action, great characterization, some splatter here, there and everywhere and a captivating plot, then this book is for you.

Our tale starts by introducing us to Oni, a Japanese vampire.  He isn't pleasant in any sense of the word.  We are then introduced to his catch, Oreno, a young girl who obviously doesn't know what she's been transformed into until later.  We flash backward to meet Oreno before her turning and capture, when she was known as Samara Takeshi.
The action brings us to her fateful turning, some other business I won't give away, which in turn sends her out into the world as a vampire, learning from the ground up so to speak.  She settles for a brief time in a dockside bar/brothel where she brings her sword skills and preternatural speed to bear as a bouncer.  After some unfortunate events involving the Yakuza, she moves on to boarding a ship and sets sail for Hawaii, ending up finally in Los Angeles, and settling in Phoenix.
It is her run in with another brothel and her wholesale destruction of the operators that gets the attention of the wrong folks.  You see, this brothel is owned by some of the local vampires...and they are not pleased with the damage done to their business.
Their council convenes and it is decided Samara must be dealt with.
She ends up aligning herself with John Doe and Sir Jakob and then the action really starts.

In the character of Samara, we're shown the abject horror of becoming a vampire, what it can and will ultimately cost you when you lose your humanity, how you can rise above the monster you've become and how you handle the change that's been forced on you.
The council of vampires is many and varied, each with their own agendas and personal politics.  I found there were times I wanted a more extensive side story into all the ins and outs and interrelations going on in the background.
There's lots of blood and guts and gore, enough to satisfy the gorehounds in the audience, and tons of action, explosions, sword fights, gun battles...it's all here.

The climax was a shade rushed for all the build up, but was satisfying nonetheless.

A.R. Hill has crafted an original take on the vampire story and I'm hoping the follow up, Dark Side of The Sun will see the light of publication ASAP.

My only complaints with A Light Against The Darkness:
The cover...don't let it put you off.  No, it doesn't even hint at the fact it's a vampire novel, but trust me, the fangs are quite present. It does however, make me think of a metaphysical book rather than a horror one.  Because of this, a casual browser seeing this on the shelf is going to pass a great vampire story right on by.
The second concern, and it's a graphic complaint, not one about the writing, was the excessive use of italics, indicating when we were in the present action and when we were inside a particular character's head.  I would  have preferred section breaks within the chapters, numbered to separate them from one another and set in the regular font.  The italics after a while were tedious to read.

All in all, A. R. Hill has the story-telling skills in spades, and I look forward to more work from this author.

For more on A.R. Hill:
A. R. Hill on Goodreads

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