Unholy Thirst, a collaboration between Richard Long and Terry Allen, has everything a person who enjoys horror stories could ask for: plenty of mayhem and gore, some demented bathroom stall sex between human and vamp, unrequited teen-age lust, a family of vampire hunters, a band of half-breed freaks and weirdoes, and of course, a coven of mean and hungry bloodsuckers. What it needs is a good editor.
The book opens by introducing us to Ashlee and Josh Knight, siblings who are returning home after a quick store run to pick up some ginger ale for their parents’ anniversary party. Upon entering the house, they quickly realize something is terribly amiss. Both of their parents and their younger brother and sister have all turned into vampires. Forced to make some quick decisions, they face off against their verbally cruel and profane, hungry family members; incapacitate and kill them in a quite graphically described fight; and burn their house down – all within the first 25 pages of the book! Josh and Ashlee then team up with their nerdy neighbor Simon, who (big surprise here) has a huge crush on Ashlee, and head off to their grandparents’ house to tell them about what has happened before they see it on the news.
As it turns out, Grandma and Grandpa have some history of their own with a vampire named Lord Messer, whom, in true Van Helsing fashion, they dispatched into oblivion after tracking him to his lair many years ago. Once Grandma and Grandpa fuss a bit over whether or not they’re too old to chase vampires, we’re off to the races as the two of them, Josh, Ashlee, and Simon head out to extract revenge against the evil bloodsuckers who murdered the other members of the Knight family.
Aside from the aforementioned editor, which will be elaborated on shortly, Unholy Thirst is also lacking in the vamp action department. We’re introduced to the group in a wild and woolly Chapter 3 – and with names like Wildthang, Sweetthang, Satan, and Death, they would have been better off remaining anonymous – but don’t really get a feel for who they are and where they came from; and the book suffers from this lack of focus. They seem more like minor players in a coming of age story revolving around Josh, Ashlee, and Simon, which is fine if that’s all you’re looking for; but I was hoping for more. After going off on a few tangents, the story reaches its highly improbable and somewhat anticlimactic conclusion in a carnival, but if you’re fond of medieval torture devices, it’ll be right up your alley.
Despite its shortcomings, I did enjoy Unholy Thirst and give its authors credit for taking the usual vampire trappings and expanding upon them. I also found Fang and Myra, a half-human/half-vampire couple, to be genuinely interesting characters. Nevertheless, I do wish they had given more attention to the simple mechanics of writing. The book is riddled with bad grammar, poor sentence structure, repetitive dialogue, and inconsistencies that both distract the reader and detract from the story. For example, when Josh and Ashlee first arrive at their grandparents’ house, Grandma “looked over at the clock on the wall. It was half past eleven.” On the very next page Grandpa “looked over at the clock on the wall. It was a little past ten.” Perhaps I’m too nitpicky, but those kinds of things drive me crazy when I’m trying to immerse myself in a story. I do admit to being highly amused, however, when one of the characters accused another of making him a “laughing stalk.” The book is available on PublishAmerica’s website, according to which they have “professional editors and designers [who] will proofread your manuscript and make corrections at no charge.” I guess Messrs. Long and Allen got their money’s worth.
All in all, though, if you’re as big a fan of vampires as I am (and as forgiving), you’ll probably like Unholy Thirst. It’s certainly not geared to the most sophisticated readers out there, but it’s a perfect, quick read for the beach, an airplane ride, or a cold and rainy Sunday afternoon.
– Debi Moore
By Richard Long and Terry Allen