on 26 April 2012
As reviewed on my 2000AD blog Brit Cit Reviews.
Having thoroughly enjoyed the previous two books in the trilogy, I was a little bit apprehensive going into Twilight of the Dead. It could have been a failure in so many ways. If you've previously read the original comic strip, then you'll allready know that Constanta is still alive in the 1980s and so can't possibly be killed in this book. Also we know that the vampyr's plot to take over the world can't possibly succeed either, as again in the 1980s everything seemed normal. Fortunatly David Bishop was able to overcome these potential stumbling blocks and once again produce a cracking good read.
Twilight of the Dead is very much a coming together of the two seperate plots in the previous novels. The first two books told of soldiers on both sides of the Eastern Fronts experiences with the Vampyr's , and this time around the two sets of characters have to join forces to attempt too overcome the greater evil. The setting of Berlin during the final days of the Second World War was an inspired choice, as it serves as a perfect match for the bleak nature of the story. This was a place which was literally hell on Earth, and I imagine the only thing that could possibly have made it any worse would have been if there had been actual vampyr's present. The scenes set during the Vampyr's night spent slaughtering the Berlin citizens are extremely atmospheric, and thanks too Bishop's writing I found it very easy to picture in my head. If your looking for a fun read then this certainly isn't it.
One thing that suprised me about this book was Bishop's willingness to kill off some of the main characters. I won't spoil here who gets killed, but towards the end of the novel (and indeed the trilogy) some of the most important characters of both the first and second books are killed off in an alarmingly casual fashion. Indeed its the end of the novel that left be just the slightest bit unsatisfyed. While everything is wrapped up nicely, it all feels like it happens far to quickly. With about thirty pages of the book left, I found myself thinking that it would be impossible to bring a close to the trilogy in such a short amount of space. To Bishop's credit he does just about manage it, but I think this installment would certainly have benefitted from an extended page count. I had begun to worry that after so much build up we wouldnt actually get to meet the Sire of the Vampyr race, but thankfully we do and what better place for it to be living than in a lake of blood. The Sire doesn't quite make the impact it should perhaps, but it serves its purpose as an essentially disposable enemy, which as I said Constanta wasn't. Again not going to spoil the ending, but if you've ever seen the classic Doctor Who story "State of Decay" then you can expect something very similar to that.
So does Twilight of the Dead bring this excellent trilogy to a satisfactory conclusion? Ultimatly I would have to say it does. It wasn't everything it could have been, but it was still a brilliant read and took the story into some unexpected areas. If you've never read the Fiends of the Eastern Front trilogy then I can highly recommend you do so, even if you haven't read the original comic strip. Its a fantastic mix of supernatural horror and WW2 adventure, and at the price you can pick up all three books online now, I promise you won't be disapointed if you give them a try.