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Book Review

Book Cover

Night Fighters


Author: Rob Smith
Wild Wolf Publishing
RRP: £10.99, US $18.99
ISBN: 978 1 907954 15 3
Available 28 November 2011

The battle for air superiority in World War Two was long, bloody, with no foregone conclusion guaranteed for either side. In an effort to win, both the British and Nazi Germany sought advantage from technological developments, unaware that their greatest assets were living among them. Quentin Quite, head of Britain’s K Department has discovered a unique human subset, whose genetic inheritance makes them perfect for flying night time interception missions. Able to see better at night than even the most gifted human, they possess faster, more powerful reflexes, though their eyes and aversion to sunlight mark them out for what they really are: vampires...

Night Fighters is the debut novel from Rob Smith. I’m sure that many will view a World War II book about vampires a cross genre gone too far, but it works surprisingly well.

The central protagonist of the novel is Crowe. When the story opens he is living on the streets, embittered, making a living as a bare knuckle fighter, brutally successful at his profession. We follow him as he is forcibly recruited into a specialist squadron, alongside both other vampires and normal humans.

Here the plot introduces a Nazi ace, the Vulture, whose success in the air rivals that of the vampires, though it doesn’t take a genius reader to guess why or where this will lead the story. As well as the story of the formation of a new squadron, this is also a story of prejudice. The new recruits are not welcomed by many of their human compatriots, especially Shaun Clark, a bitter human who spends his time taunting Crowe, nor are they appreciated by the squadron’s leader.

It would have been easy, if slightly mundane, had the plot concentrated purely on this aspect of the story. True, it could be seen as an allegory of the experiences of any non-Caucasian in the services, or any minority. Thankfully, the novel does not labour the point, nor does it become preachy, but tries to achieve a reasonably realistic interpretation of what could happen in these circumstances.

The novel shines in its description of night flying; the joy that the vampires feel experiencing the freedom of flight is palpable on the page. This is partially because Smith has gone down the road of vampirism being more of a genetic abnormally, so gone are the fangs and the ability to fly, except in a plane. His vampires regenerate quickly, though only externally, and do benefit from drinking blood - but this is not necessarily in each case - and have eyes more akin to cats, hence their use as night fighter pilots.

For a novel this is an impressive first outing for Rob Smith, he has been able to weave together both genres, the Second World War and vampirism together seamlessly. The writing is intelligent and well-constructed with a writing style which is easy to read.


Charles Packer

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