As mentioned back in mid-winter, I was given an advance copy of Kevin Glennon's first book, VIKINGS, VAMPIRES AND MAILMEN. I read the book over the course of several off-watch periods at sea, and, after I recovered from the accumulated sleep debt, I was very happy to be asked to write a review. If you like a good read in the adventure/fantasy genre, I heartily recommend this book- You can follow the US Vampire Service link on my right-side menu bar here, or check out the book's website here. If you want to just take my word for it, you can order the book through the usual online sources, or directly from right here.
VIKINGS, VAMPIRES AND MAILMEN is the freshman novel of Kevin Glennon, and a return to sanity for those who want their vampire-hunting books to not be sold in the Romance section of your local bookstore. There is no foofoo clothing, teen angst or sparkling in these vampires. The creatures in question are near mindless ‘bugs;’ walking hungry murder machines who seem oddly drawn to the woods of Wolf Bay, AL, the latest town to suffer an infestation.
Enter the United States Vampire Service (USVS), postal contractors who are paid to deal with tamping down the odd vampire outbreak. First among equals is the narrator, Othniel O’Connor, hereditary chief; admittedly not the best, but the best available administrator and a perfectly serviceable bug killer. VAMPIRES follows one particularly inexplicable outbreak where the concentration and variety of vampires shows signs of a troubling outside influence on their behavior. Headaches with the local populace, Washington, and the heavy-handed influence of the USVS’s European counterparts complicate an already-difficult job.
In VAMPIRES, Glennon must reinvent the wheel to introduce readers to the language, tech, and tactics characters rely on, and he does so with detail and style. Explaining how the CEO of Mack trucks becomes a fan after the necessity of cluing him into why they need multiple custom armored assault vehicles is done nonchalantly and sarcastically, with plenty of dark humor. Humor is a double-edged sword in this book. Sarcasm often masks serious issues, and the reality of men dealing with troubling and disturbing news with black humor and plenty of dick and fart jokes makes this book read believably. For pure escapist fantasy, this is a fast, fun read.
The story evolves. Characters find flaws in longstanding beliefs, myths are dispelled rather quickly, assumptions are questioned, and sacred tactics are found to be less than sacrosanct. The book evolves, too. VAMPIRES feels like two books on the same subject- a primer to the trade, and the story of the Alabama outbreak. Both story arcs interplay, but in the thick of the Alabama outbreak, Glennon’s writing truly breaks out- characters and events take on their true depth, and the reader (or this reader, anyhow) realizes that there is no place for Happily Ever After for people exposed to daily trauma in the workplace. The reader sees Glennon’s chops as a writer evolve, too, and, going into this book with the foreknowledge that this is his first published novel, it’s revealing and rewarding to see how a book starts to take on a life of its’ own. This is a story meant to be continued.