Book Review: Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale by Donna Burgess

9972389Title: Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale
Author: Donna Burgess
Genre: Horror, Supernatural
Rating: 4 stars

Halloween night, twenty years ago, college student Susan Archer watched as her beloved twin brother was brutally murdered at the hands of a stranger she invited into their home. Still haunted by the guilt of that night, Susan is now a tough but bitter cop in a nowhere town, trying as best she can to lead a normal life. When she is nearly killed during a wild shoot-out, she realizes she is not as strong as she first thought.

Fearing a breakdown, she flees the confines of her safe boyfriend and familiar surroundings to find salvation in the arms of “Deathwalker” Devin McCree—the very man who killed her brother.

But things aren’t always what they seem and she quickly realizes Devin was not the monster she originally thought, but a kind of guardian angel instead.

On the run from a crazed Nazi vampire-hunter named Kasper, she and Devin must find a way to endure the dreary urban landscape of a dying metropolis and escape Kasper’s wrath.

Twenty year ago, on the night of Halloween, Susan’s brother Peter got killed. It was an accident – of sorts, but she had to live with the guilt for what happened ever since. The man responsible for her beloved twin’s death, Devin McCree, vanished off the face of the earth. That is, until now. Because now, only two weeks after Susan shot a man to death in cold blood and lost her unborn child in the process, Devin has returned. And he wants her. What dark and evil creatures of the night want, they usually tend to get – and this time is no different. After she is killed and turned into a Deathwalker by Devin, the man whom she trusted, Susan is left with little choice but to leave her old and familiar life, and her partner Michael, behind, and run off to a new future with a man she hardly knows.

But things are not always as they seem, as Susan’s new found freedom might bring her into even greater trouble. Because Devin and his roommate John both have secrets of their own. Dark and dangerous secrets, that might even treaten the lives of Susan and her fellow Deathwalkers. That’s not to mention that her previous partner, Michael, has no intention of just giving up on her. In the mysterious ghosttown of Dunwich, the time is almost near for a final showdown, as the past has finally caught up with Devin, and his previous tormenter is determined to destroy everything the Deathwalker loves. Including Susan.

Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale is a mix of horror, supernatural and more guts and gore than the average slasher movie. Really, I was very surprised to see how graphic and gruesome some scenes were described, and my stomach twisted and turned several times throughout the novel. I can’t say I particularly enjoyed these terrifying scenes – enjoy just isn’t the appropriate word – but I thought they gave an edge of brutality and evil to this story that I haven’t come across in many vampire novels as of late. The thing is that, if you read too many novels in which vampires have a soft side and fall in love with human heroines, you lose track of the fact that they are, by their own nature, vicious and violent creatures capable of murder in the first degree. Some of the Deathwalkers that appear throughout this novel, hold true to these traits, and it’s a refreshing change from the sparkling vampires I’ve seen too often.

I had a little trouble with the personality of the main characters. Susan has a lot of issues, her most important one being that ever since her twin brother’s death, she is uncapable of opening up to anyone, not even her partner. Although she is in a loving and caring relationship, she has no trouble throwing all of that away for a short fling with Devin. Now, whereas there were some personality traits of Susan I didn’t quite relate to, I’m not saying the character wasn’t written well enough. The author portrayed all of her characters with the utmost care, making them feel very human and realistic. It’s just that I probably wouldn’t get along with any of the characters. 😛

At first, I thought of Michael as being the weaker of the two men in Susan’s life. Desperately clinging on to a relationship doomed from the start, a doctor rather than a fighter, I was pretty sure he stood no chance against Devin. But as the story developed, and Michael risked his own life to save Susan in the miserable old town of Dunwich, his personality changed dramatically as he was forced to deal with his own darkness and the possibility that it might already be too late to save his beloved. He became stronger, which was portrayed beautifully in the novel, and the man Susan ran into later on, was not the man she had left behind anymore. That definately earned him some credit. Now Devin, on the other hand…Well, he’s another story.

I wasn’t convinced with Devin from the start. For a vampire, he has some rather unmanly personality traits, and I couldn’t help but think of him as a coward. He has spend more than half of his immortal life on the run from another vampire named Kasper, and not once has he stopped and turned around to actually do something about it. He watched as Kasper killed every single person he ever loved – and still he could do nothing to stop him. Now I know some torturer/victim of torture relationships may be messed up, but this one definately was. Yet, I was still crossing my fingers for Devin to finally face his demons. No such luck though, and I was starting to wonder halfway through the novel why Susan ran off with Devin in the first place. I mean, sure he’s mysterious and got the whole immortal thing working for him, but apart from that? He is a weak, pathetic excuse for a vampire. And not because he refuses to kill another human being except when they really deserve it (read pedo’s, murderers); but mostly because he’s too afraid to face Kasper.

To be honest, I found Kasper’s personality the most interesting one of them all. There is something morbidly fascinating about looking into the mind of a serial killer, an individual who likes torturing others, a creature with no remorse. I also really liked the setting: the town of Dunwich, a ghost town really, nearly abandoned yet inhabited by Deathwalkers, and creatures who didn’t make the full transition. It had me thinking about Silent Hill, a movie and a game I enjoyed thoroughly a couple of years ago. I imagined the town a bit like Silent Hill as well, I have to admit, with this silent, creepy and eerie feeling to it. The flashbacks to the 1940s were interesting as well, especially to discover some more of Devin’s and Kasper’s past. The storyline itself was intense, dark and creepy at all times. What gave me the most goosebumps, were the scenes with Sandra and Michael (I won’t get into detail for the sake of spoiler free reviews!).

Darklands: A Vampire’s Tale is a dark, supernatural horror story, with some greatly disturbing scenes (a must in this genre), and some uniquely-crafted characters. Although Devin annoyed me at times, the other characters were a lot more interesting, the story is fast-paced, intense and gripping, and all in all, it’s a captivating book that will keep you terrified from the start till the end.

Comments

  1. michelle grayce says:

    Sounds great would love to read it.

  2. Chris Bails says:

    This sounds like a great book. this is a new author and am always looking for something new to read. will have to check out this author when i go to the bookstore. keep the suggestions coming.

  3. Loved the depth of the review and very impressed by your thoughts. Boy I have a lot to learn just from reading your words. Bravo!

  4. Thanks so much for having me on and for the great review of Darklands! I appreciate that you “got it.” I believe everyone expected a paranormal romance ;-D

    Cheers!
    Donna

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