A plague of vampirism has crept across the country, reducing once-thriving cities to ghost towns. In Chicago, a few scattered survivors hide behind the fortified walls of office buildings and museums, raiding deserted stores for dwindling supplies of clothing and food. A small band of humans makes a despearate last stand against their vampire masters with the only weapon that can kill the dead.
Originally published in paperback in 1993, this horror extravaganza shows a first-time novelist laboring to milk a drop of originality from the tapped-out theme of global vampire takeover. The tale is set in Chicago's downtown Loop two years after a vampire uprising has decimated the human population and turned the city into a mausoleum ruled by the undead. These are not the sophisticated killing machines of other vampire apocalypse stories, but a headstrong, impulsive lot who have all but depleted their food supply and must feed sparingly on a small herd of human cattle penned up in the abandoned Merchandise Mart. This sets the stage for a Dirty Dozen scenario in which a troop of guerrilla mortals, most of whom assumed he or she was the last living human, unite to liberate the captives. Navarro (That's Not My Name) skimps on developing significant plot details like how the vampires rose to power and how one mortal has acquired mystic knowledge of the secret for destroying them focusing instead on individual stories of mortal and vampire survival that make up the mosaic narrative. This panoramic approach keeps the tale moving briskly in swift, cinematic cuts, but also ensures that individuals will never be in the spotlight long enough to transcend clich character types: the cowardly collaborator, the martinet enemy lieutenant, the doomed couple who find love among the ruins. Essentially a war adventure with a supernatural twist, this novel is a competent if unremarkable addition to the modern vampire canon. FYI:This edition features a brief prequel and excerpt from a forthcoming sequel.