It’s safe to assume I’ll read any horror book where vampires are biting someone’s throat out. That’s why I wanted to read 30 Days of Night: Fear of the Dark. It also didn’t hurt that Tim Lebbon, the author who wrote the movie tie in book, wrote this completely new story set in the 30 Days of Night world. If you’ve read the graphic novels or watched the movie, you know these vampires have rows of sharp teeth and think of humans as little more than cattle, food. Awesome, right?
Marty Volk has a guardian angel. For the past five years, since he was twelve years old, it has saved Marty whenever he’s been in danger. And from a single darkened glimpse one night on the streets of London, he thinks it’s his long-lost sister Rose—ten years older than him, beautiful, intelligent . . . and deceased. For Rose has become a creature of legend that thrives, along with her undead companions, in the shadows of the human world . . . one who tenaciously holds on to her new existence, and who will do anything to survive. . . .
Fear of the Dark tells the story of Rose Volk, a vampire who chooses not to feed on live, human blood. She’s been missing for five years and her family, with the exception of her little brother, believe her to be dead. Turns out she’s been watching out for her little brother from the shadows and darkness. Mr. Lebbon creates some great characters in this story, Rose first and foremost. She constantly fights her inner bloodlust and her attachment to her previous life. Inner conflict only adds to the tension, yo. And boy, do we have loads of tension.
Rose’s younger brother Marty, on the other hand, is a whiny and overly emotional teenager. He’s never given up hope that his big sister would walk back through the door one day. I found Marty to be too much of a wuss. I mean, he pees his pants several times throughout this story. He complains, he does things he knows he shouldn’t, then complains that he did them, mouths off, and hopes his vampire sister will save him time and time again. Anyway, his weakness becomes Rose’s weakness too, which I did like. When she has to stop and think about helping her brother instead of doing the right thing, it adds to the tension, and stakes.
What Tim does so well is stay faithful to the original 30 Days of Night world. I could easily see this being made into a successful film. These vampires were cold blooded killers. They took what they wanted, when they wanted to take them. I also liked how he incorporated Stella Olemaun, from the graphic novels, into this story. She’s not a main player, but she does play a small role. All the little things make this story feel like it belongs in the 30 Days of Night universe. Kudos to Tim for his attention to detail.
The first quarter of this book starts out like a bat out of hell. The pace is blistering and readers are easily sucked into the story. I was surprised by how much action happens so soon. And I loved it. Unfortunately, the bar is set so high that when things calm down for too long, you begin to wonder when more carnage will happen. Eventually more action is sprinkled throughout the middle, but never quite like the beginning of the book. This is the rare case where I think so much good action, so soon, actually works against the rest of the book because you come to expect all the action to be as good. You want more. It’s a good thing that when more action happens, the quality stays high. I guess Tim likes spinning an intelligent, and gory tale. I do too.
What I liked:
- Rose Volk. She’s a great character to build a story around. I even wanted to know more of her backstory because she’s so interesting. I wondered how she felt toward the vampire who turned her. Her life was changed and all because he was lonely. Healthy questions about a character’s backstory are a good thing. She’s definitely interesting and easy to root for. She’s making the most out of her new situation, the best way she can. I’d like to see more of her in future books.
- The Vampires. If you want your vampires to be hungry, throat ripping, blood slurping monsters, you picked the right book. Mr. Lebbon even shows us another side of these vampires as some choose not to feed on live, human blood. He even differentiates between popular vampire myths like fear of crosses, no mirror reflections, and adverse reactions to garlic, and the 30 Days of Night vampires. These vampires have their own lore, and rightfully so, and readers are treated to how they work.
- The family dynamic between Rose and Marty. Rose is strong. Marty is not. Having Rose constantly worrying about her brother adds a whole new layer to the story.
- The authenticity. Mr. Lebbon’s attention to detail makes this story feel like it belongs in the 30 Days of Night universe.
- No character is safe. I love how Tim isn’t afraid to kill off his characters. When the story calls for blood, he gives you blood…in buckets.
- The first quarter of the book. Man, the pace and action of the first quarter of this book makes it worth reading just for that. The rest is gravy.
- The London setting. I like how Tim presented London after dark. It’s gritty and feels like an authentic big city. He includes everything from junkies, crowded tubes, and even the smell of piss in doorways.
What I didn’t like:
- Marty Volk. He’s a bit too whiny and emotional to want to root for. Halfway through the book I was hoping the bad guys would catch and eat him so he would stop whining. Seriously. Maybe they do…you’ll have to read to find out.
- The middle lags. The beginning is awesome. The end is also awesome. The middle, unfortunately, isn’t.
- The rapid fire POV’s at the end. While I like the ending, Mr. Lebbon switches character POVs sometimes after a single page so readers are following four different characters in a single chapter.
- The “bad vampires” motivation. I won’t get into specifics, but I will say the logic behind them seeking out Rose is thin at best.
Overview: I’m giving 30 Days of Night: Fear of the Dark a solid 3 and a half stars out of five. While this book won’t be up for any awards, it will satisfy any vampire lover’s fix. These aren’t your traditional vampires either. If you like your vampires predatory and your horror bloody, you should definitely give this book a try. I enjoyed my time with Tim Lebbon’s take on the 30 Days of Night vampires. I hope he continues with another story starring Rose. I’d slap my money down for another go. I’ll definitely keep my eye out for what Tim writes next and search out some of his earlier works.