Vampires have taken a beating lately due to recent movie and TV outings, making them weak and romantic. Thankfully vampire fiction is still strong due to the likes of Guillermo Del Toro and The Strain Trilogy. I decided to take a step back to the eighties, to a darker time in vampire tradition and read The Light at the End. This book is also dubbed the original splatterpunk novel, which is up there with my favorite horror sub genres. So, with that being said, I’m not sure why it took me so long to get to this book.
The book starts off with a brutal massacre on a late night subway train in the bowels of New York City. During the attack from an ancient vampire, Rudy Pasko, a young punk, is turned and left to enjoy his new powers. Rudy is incredibly obnoxious and easy to root against as he seeks out acquaintances from his old life. Through these interactions, a group of people – former friends, an ex-girlfriend and witnesses – who know the truth about the continuing atrocities taking place in the city get together. They become an unlikely group, set with the task of putting Rudy’s killing spree to an end before he gets to them. The characters in the group are a mixed bag and their personalities complement each other, from the rage-filled bruiser, Joseph, to the wimpy Stephen and the vampire obsessed Claire.
As for the vampire, Rudy, I really enjoyed the times when, despite his incredible powers, he shows that he’s still vulnerable to bullying and confrontation, a hang over from his living days. He comes across like an egotistical, spoiled only child (I’m an only child too, so I can say that). That makes you love to hate him, and what more can you ask for in a villain?
The climax builds as our newly formed group of vampire hunters go in search of Rudy. The cat and mouse hunting does drag on a little bit. Suffice it to say that the final showdown is satisfying and there is plenty of bloodshed. There is some decent gore in the book which was probably much more shocking when it was originally released. Nowadays the limits of splatter have been pushed far further.
The book has good pacing and there is always the sense of danger present. There are some very dated social attitudes which are a bit distracting and the low points of the book. It’s an enjoyable read and if, like me, you’ve somehow missed this book so far, it is definitely worth reading.
Book Cover Blurb:
An adrenaline-charged tale of unrelenting suspense that sparks with raw and savage energy… The newspapers scream out headlines that spark terror across the city. Ten murders on the New York City subway. Ten grisly crimes that defy all reason — no pattern, no m.o., no leads for police to pursue. The press dubs the fiend the “Subway Psycho”; the NYPD desperately seeks their quarry before the city erupts in mass hysteria. But they won’t find what they’re looking for.
Because they all think that the killer is human.
Only a few know the true story — a story the papers will never print. It is a tale of abject terror and death written in grit and steel… and blood. The tale of a man who vanished into the bowels of the urban earth one night, taken by a creature of unholy evil, then left as a babe abandoned on the doorstep of Hell. Now he is back, driven by twin demons of rage and retribution.
He is unstoppable. And we are all his prey… unless a ragtag band of misfit souls will dare to descend into a world of manmade darkness, where the real and unreal alike dwell in endless shadow. A place where humanity has been left behind, and the horrifying truth will dawn as a madman’s chilling vendetta comes to light…
Filled with gripping drama and harrowing doomsday dread, The Light at the End is the book that ushered in a bold new view of humankind’s most ancient and ruthless evil; a mesmerizing novel from two acknowledged masters of spellbinding suspense.