nick730 (nick730) wrote,

Book review: Midnight Mass

F. Paul Wilson is the author of the brilliant The Keep, a quasi-vampire novel which took the Indiana Jones rule of "it's OK to kill off loads of supporting characters - as long as they're Nazis" and ran with it. His more recent Midnight Mass is a vampire novel without any "quasi" about it, the story of a horde of undead who have taken over their traditional strongholds of Europe and Asia completely, and are now trying to take over America as well, turning the population into cattle to be farmed. A disgraced priest starts a small resistance force in the stronghold of his old church, trying to overthrow the vampires.

The fact that it took me a while to get through a pretty light read isn't really a criticism of the book - it's interesting enough, but I've had other things on my mind this last month so I rarely got round to picking it up. I only rushed to the end this morning because I didn't want to take a whole extra book with me to Japan for the sake of the last 40 pages which I'd probably read on the tube to the airport. And as a light read it does the job - the plot's straightforward but not simplistic, the characters identifyable and you do want to turn the page to find out what happens next.

The story is told from various characters' perspective, and it's here that the most irritating aspect of the book comes in: In trying to differentiate between their voices, Wilson lays it on with a trowel. A rabbi speaks like Jackie Mason if he'd taken extra-Jewish pills that morning. An Irish nun's "faint trace" of a brogue is so strong I started imagining her with her arms straight down at her sides, Riverdancing every time she spoke. Luckily the inevitable Dick Van Dyke cockney doesn't survive more than a couple of pages.

Wilson's vampires fit the "classic" model - sunlight, crosses, garlic, and no Anne Rice angst. In his preface he says he wanted to find a reason for the connection between vampire lore and the Catholic Church, but apart from making his leads a priest and a nun he does no such thing: Crosses work, stars of David have no effect and that's that.

But criticisms aside, this was fun if nothing new and it does what it says on the tin.
Tags: books

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