A young boy runs miles into the town of Sabine Valley with frightening news. He has seen a large group of men wearing strange uniforms viciously assaulting two young girls outside town. The sheriff suspects something sinister but is unprepared for the evil that is about to be unleashed on an otherwise peaceful town.
Fred Staff’s Arrival of Evil combines horror with the classic western tale in a story that pegs the fear meter at maximum. A relatively short tail that grabs you by the throat from page one and squeezes until the last drop of blood oozes out. This fusion of two genres is masterfully done. I give it four stars.
Helen Treharne’s Relative Strangers is not your usual vampire story. It actually sets most of the vampire tales on their ears. I just finished reading a free review copy, and I’m still trying to process what I read.
Sophie Morgan is, on the surface at least, your average twenty-something. When she takes a vacation with her friend, Tracy, and is attacked by what she determines is a vampire, though, things change. The story begins with pulse-pounding action as Sophie is attacked in her home by a flesh-eating vampire, and then in a very long flash back (which could have been better set up, but was still effective) explains that attack.
Treharne’s tale debunks a lot of the myths that prevail in most vampire stories – sunlight doesn’t kill her vamps, nor are they repelled by garlic, but, as Sophie learns, they can be killed. In addition to establishing a whole new vampire culture, Treharne sets up the possibility of further chilling tales – particularly the complicity of certain mortals who are not only aware of the existence of vampires, but who want to be vampires.
Relative Strangers is not ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer,’ even though there are flashes of humor. After reading it, you might think twice before getting up in the middle of the night to investigate sounds downstairs, and you’ll definitely be reluctant to walk down an unlit street.
I give Treharne four stars for her creativity.