Monday, October 18, 2010

Draculas -- Blake Crouch, Jack Kilborn (J.A. Konrath), Jeff Strand, F. Paul Wilson

It’s no secret that J.A. Konrath is one of the best-selling Kindle authors in the world, and tomorrow marks the release of his newest novel, a horror yarn called DRACULAS, written (under the pseudonym Jack Kilborn) in collaboration with Blake Crouch, Jeff Strand, and F. Paul Wilson. I expect it to sell a ton of copies. (And that’s a lot, considering what an ebook weighs – nothing!)

Anyway, I’m one of many who got a review copy. As I’ve probably mentioned here before, I don’t read a lot of horror novels, but I like to try one now and then, especially if it has plenty of action. I’m not much of a fan of slow-moving, creepy, psychological horror. Give me some monster-fightin’ and I’m okay, though. DRACULAS has that in spades.

The plot finds a rich guy who’s dying of cancer spending millions of dollars to buy a recently-discovered skull that may have belonged to a vampire. Thinking that a bite from such a creature might restore his health or at least keep him from dying, he uses the teeth on the skull to chomp his own neck, and sure enough, he starts to transform into something else. (This isn’t really a spoiler, since it all happens very quickly as the novel begins.) Rushed to the local hospital by his nurse, he becomes a bloodthirsty monster and goes on a rampage, infecting most of the people he comes in contact with, who in turn infect others, until there are only a few human survivors left in the hospital to battle the vampires (or “draculas”, as one of the characters dubs them) and try to keep the outbreak contained. Gory chaos ensues.

That’s really all there is to it. All the action – and there’s a lot of it – takes place over a span of a few hours. The collaborators wrote this book by divvying up the viewpoint characters amongst themselves and each writing the scenes featuring their characters, with some mutual editing and helping out to make everything fit together, of course. Some characters die, some characters rise to the occasion, tragedy and heroism abound. There’s some very dark humor, too.

I’m probably not really the target audience for this novel, since I tend not to like really gruesome stuff, and DRACULAS reaches that point in a hurry and builds from there. But it won me over with the characters. The ending probably would have bothered me if I didn’t know there was already a sequel in the works. I’m sure I’ll read it, too.

The Kindle edition of this book includes a lot more than just the novel. There are reprints of several short stories by Konrath, written in collaboration with each of the other contributors, excerpts from other novels by them, an interview with the authors in which they discuss how they went about writing the book, and all the email correspondence that went on between them while the whole thing was going on. It’s a fascinating behind-the-scenes look that’s almost a book in itself, although it’s probably more of interest to other writers than to general readers, as Konrath acknowledges.

All in all, I liked DRACULAS. If you’re a horror fan, there’s a good chance you will, too. But if you’re squeamish, it’s probably best to avoid this one.


Josiah Creed said...

Dear Mr. Reasoner,

I am interested in contacting you concerning a series of books similar to the "Children of the Lion" series which you helped write. I don't know how to reach you other than this blog. If you would, please send other contact method to . Thank you.

Josiah Creed said...
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