Reviews In The Machine : King Carrion by Rich Hawkins
As a child of the eighties, I was born and raised on what I consider to be one of the golden ages of horror fiction. Franchises were born here, franchises that, to this day we find ourselves unable to escape from. And while there are any number of instances where we, as a culture have lost our way, there is one specific area which I particularly lament where we seem to have gone wrong.
I speak specifically of vampires.
A lot of this is likely going to seem directed at Twilight and to be sure, much of it for me came from that particular franchise. If that’s your thing, all the power to you but for me, it was way too far of a stone’s throw from the classic films I grew up with. Vampires used to be cool, they were dangerous and gritty. Vampires were a force to be reckoned with in the fictional landscape.
Then things began to change and it was almost like vampires started to become too precious. The intensity of the genre seemed to lessen and with the exception of a few standout films, vampire fiction seemed to become very bland and for a long time now, I have been waiting for a beam of light to show us the way through this long vampiric nightmare we seem to exist within.
Enter King Carrion, by Rich Hawkins, stage left.
The story of the book is to the point and efficient. The main character, Mason, is returning to his home town after an incarceration to try and beg himself back into the life of his ex-wife, trying to atone for his crime. He quickly discovers that something is wrong. An ancient vampire God has descended on the town, intent on making Great Britain his own.
This is what I have been missing for all this time. These are the vampires I grew up with, this is the horror genre I grew up with. It was a breath of fresh air in a world of emotionally available vampires. These vampires hit hard and fast, with just the right amount of gore that I have come to expect.
The book is paced quite well and for me, King Carrion often has the feel of Salem’s Lot, if it were to be clarified down to its essential base self. Hawkins wastes no time taking the reader straight into the heart of the story and uses a ton of great description to plunge us into this beautifully bleak environment.
The quality of the writing here is top rate. Hawkins’ aptitude for physical description comes through clearly in this book and the action of the story does a great job moving things along. There was no point where I felt things were dragging and pretty much throughout the book, I didn’t want to put it down. This is one that I definitely could have taken down in one reading if the time had been there. His characters feel genuine and their struggles seem real. He does a good job making their situation sympathetic very quickly.
Hawkins also does what I think is essential to any proper monster story in that he takes the essence of the vampires but also adds some personal twists of his own. It felt like he paid tribute to the legacy of the monster while also putting something out there that was uniquely his.
If I had any gripe about the story, it would be a minor one and to be fair, this is a hard bridge to cross for any author and there are just some times when it works better than others. But for me it was the point in the story where, after having his first encounter with the vampires, Mason decides to return to the scene to investigate. For me, I always find myself in horror movies and books asking why the character is bothering at all when I would probably be trying to get the hell out of there. Why go back? So in the context of this book, I think I would have liked it if that decision had been a little more fleshed out so that his motivations were a little clearer. As I said though, very minor issue for me.
I don’t know if Hawkins has any plans for a follow-up to this book but if there is a chance, I would definitely be on the lookout for it as I believe there could be more story to tell here.
For anyone out there who is of a similar disposition to me, who loves their horror delivered with some grit and some bleakness to it, this book would be an excellent choice for you. And maybe, with small steps like this, we can start to bring ourselves back into the light and away from the sanitized versions of these great fictional characters we have today.
Say it with me.
Vampires can be cool again.
EDITOR’S NOTE – Please consider checking out Rich Hawkins’ Amazon author page and take a look at more of his books. He is an incredibly talented author who deserves far more recognition and accolades than he receives. Support a great artist today.
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