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"When the hunger came, it could be satisfied only by one who was worthy...",
This review is from: Denied (Paperback)"Set to become...THE most important vampire novel of the decade" the blurb on the back of the paperback copy tells the reader. "Well gosh!" thought I on first seeing this claim, "I must read that!" My growing optimism was further fed by author Pat Brien's dedications of DENIED to the likes of Sheridan Le Fanu, Bram Stoker and F.W.Murnau (director of the powerful German expressionist silent film: NOSFERATU) who all created iconic and powerful entries in the genre which are personal favourites. However, having actually read the book, all I can now say is that if this pornographic, pulp nonsense is the best vampire novel on offer, then please spare me from exposure to anything of lesser quality.
To be fair, Pat Brien has obviously thought long and hard about the implications of the vampire myth and has come up with his own unique take. In the world of DENIED, the vampire can only be properly sustained and nourished by victims of a high moral character who give themselves willingly. Failure to totally succeed in this seduction leads to extremely unpleasant consequences for the vampire.
Moreover, I feel grateful that at least Brien has not seen fit to give us yet another variant on the brooding, lovelorn but benevolent vampire similar to Edward Cullen from Stephanie Meyers' wretched and much to be avoided TWILIGHT series. As has been observed by better commentators than I, vampires have become too safe and approachable in recent years. I for one, would prefer to have them as ruthless, merciless and predatory as opposed to fey metaphors for teenage anxt.
But Brien's skills as a story teller simply do not match his ambition to be original. The only nightmares the prose is likely to induce in the reader are those of having to wade through such unwieldy, cliche-ridden stuff again. This is particularly the case when it comes to Brien's lack of imagination in describing his characters' feelings. In DENIED characters "gasp in surprise","burn with humiliation", they feel "stings of jealousy", are "fit to burst with happiness" or "overpowered by rage" and have "arousal" that is "almost unbearable". Sadly, this is not an exhaustive list of the lumbering banalities on offer. When scenes of shocking violence occur (and they do, frequently - more on this aspect later) the writing is as flat and unmemorable as a police report, further diminishing any atmosphere the book might hope to retain.
Complimenting this wooden, predictable prose is a cast of cardboard, predictable characters whose fates are very difficult to care about. Even when Brien attempts to inject ambiguity or humour the technique is simply too obvious and leaden. The characters don't really feel like products of the 1830's and 1860's. The dialogue lacks the edge necessary to make one forget that you're reading second rate pulp nonsense from 2010, even when it attempts to mimic(for example)the voices of Irish immigrant workers.
This would all be bad enough without the book's predilection for both actual pornography and the pornography of violence. Bram Stokers' DRACULA is suffused with an erotic undercurrent mainly because it doesn't explicitly mention the sex act. The violence in the 1897 masterpiece is emotionally charged and feels like it's happening to real people. DENIED - a shrieking, wanton, harlot of a book, peopled with ciphers, would never dream of anything so subtle.
What slightly depresses me is that I'm certain that there are bound to be people
who will get off on scenes of rape, faces getting chewed off, torture, necks being ripped out etc - and if you're one of them, then good luck to you, but count me out of any such lurid dross in future. I'm afraid I cannot really recommend DENIED to any but the most undiscerning fans of gore and schlock. The best I can say about it is that it's slightly better than 2009's appalling "official sequel" to Stoker's DRACULA; DRACULA - THE UNDEAD by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt - but then it could scarcely be worse.