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A stunning debut.,
This review is from: The Eyes of the Dead: A Novel of Supernatural Suspense (The Vetala Cycle Book 1) (Kindle Edition)
You might be forgiven for being slightly fearful of picking up a novel about vampires, given how recent years have treated our blood-sucking undead friends. But I can assure you that to pick up The Eyes of the Dead is to be enthralled and not in the least disappointed. This is Graham Masterton. This is F. Paul Wilson. This is serious horror for those of us who lament the tedium of yet more teen-fixated atrocities or rehashes of old and tired ideas. Yeates couldn't have done a better job at rejuvenating the vampire had he sent Blade himself into the Twilight universe.
There are no clichés here, no cut-out-and-keep stereotypes, no paint by numbers caricatures. Each of Yeates' characters is well formed, emotionally rounded. The things that we learn about them only hint at their fuller lives and you really do get the feeling that they have histories. These people have not merely been placed into a set of circumstances for our amusement, like production line clones whose brains have been injected with the mannerisms, quirks, idiosyncrasies and actions that we have come to expect. We join them at a point along their longer journey, they have already lived considerably before we meet them, and only some of them will continue to do so once we reach the final sentence.
This is an historical novel and language of the time is handled with nuance, in a way that only someone with a passion for the subject matter could. This is researched, but you're not going to be lectured on the meaning of this or that. Yeates treats the reader with respect and everything makes sense, even if you've never heard of duckboards or limbers or the horrors, because Yeates invests so much effort in making us part of the scenery, to give the reader a sense of place, and doesn't rely on assumed knowledge of the period or indeed the history - because you don't need it. The storytelling is top notch.
The horror is derived from a variety of elements. The war, obviously, presented by Yeates in unflinching, yet matter-of-fact tones. We are invited to live it. There is a strong sense of curious normality about the shelling and the rotting trenches and the circumstances of our protagonist, Private Wilson, is all the more awful because of it. The vampire elements, treated in a way that I have genuinely never seen before, returning these creatures to the stuff of nightmares and reclaiming them from the sweating fingers of hormonal adolescent girls. This is the vampire as it should be - terrible, remorseless, anthropomorphous fear of the kind that turns rational minds to jelly. But deeper, too, as the characters and personalities of our cast, their emotions, their motives, are exposed and shown raw. The way in which Sister Fearing treats her patients is of particular relevance there. Monsters are not always of the myth-made-flesh variety.
In all, a wonderful book. An absolute delight to read and not simply because I wanted to know what happened next - the prose is so well put together and the reading of this tale is so rewarding. This is easily the best book I have read so far in 2011. I look forward to Yeates' next novel and, hopefully, the many that will come afterwards.