Vampyrrhic (1998) by Simon Clark


So I guess Yorkshire is now a hotbed of vampiric activity. The small fictional town of Leppington not far from Whitby of Dracula fame has vampires running around its sewer system when the last of the old Leppington family line, one Doctor David Leppington, returns home to a strange heritage that according to his uncle and an old book involves David leading an undead army of vampires in a battle against Christendom. Or something along those lines.

Vampyrrhic starts really well, with a good setting and atmosphere, with occasional white vampire heads glimpsed bobbing around in the sewers like good old Pennywise. After that, for some reason, the novel mostly stays put in a hotel, making Vampyrrhic into a weird vampiric Fawlty Towers, except it’s nowhere near as good as that sounds. The motley crew of David and various other people at the hotel begin to figure out ways to fight the creatures and struggle with an elevator taking hotel guests straight to the vampires, and apparently have a few lines of cocaine to keep them alert through the long nights. I wish, but I don’t think that quick aside from one of the characters was explored further. At some point an American turned vampire appears outside to make some straight-to-video threats, because discount villains must, I guess.

Vampyrrhic is a very frustrating horror novel because it contains the seeds of greatness. A desolate northern town infested with vampires is cool as hell as an idea, but instead the novel gets bogged down in its attempts to be an epic, and squanders everything in the process. The quality of writing is good at the beginning but the novel loses structure and coherence as it tries to stumble to its long-winded conclusion. And almost every idea (that damn hotel elevator!) is repeated so often they end up becoming banal. By the time the characters or the vampires do something interesting the reader has already checked out.

** (2/5)