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Book Review

Book Cover

Waking Nightmares


Author: Christopher Golden
Simon & Schuster
RRP: £7.99
ISBN: 978 1 84739 928 1
Available 10 May 2012

The powerful mage and former vampire, Peter Octavian, is viewed with suspicion by both his former brethren and the numerically superior humanity. Having previous exposed the existence of vampires to the world by destroying the Vatican’s Sorcery Corp, whose existence threatened the very existence of vampires the world has changed, but not for the good, with the Corp gone, vampires and witches are now registered, but other evil has begun to seep back into the world. In the small Massachusetts town of Hawthorne an ancient force has arisen, drawing in both Octavian and the witch, Keomany Shaw. Their discovery will shock Octavian as he comes to understand that he bears responsibility for this new outbreak...

Waking Nightmares is the fifth book, in the Shadow Saga, written by Christopher Golden. As well as being known as a respected writer for his crossover novels, he has penned a number of well received original series as well as writing comics and short stories, he hails from Massachusetts.

Although the novel is a fast paced horror thriller, Golden takes time to introduce his characters, allowing empathy with the audience. Octavian, by now, is a well-established character, but don’t be worried that jumping in at the fifth book will leave you confused as Golden has provided enough background information that the book works just as well as a standalone story.

With the surfeit of vampire novels which are doing the rounds, in the wake of Twilight’s success, it's interesting to see what authors differing takes exist on what is a fairly self-limiting basic idea. Golden has chosen a dyslectic which sits comfortably somewhere between Dan Brown, Buffy and H. P. Lovecraft, to carve out is own unique niche.

Although the pace is never left to falter, Golden writes his novels with the calm assurance of a well-established author, at the height of his abilities. Having read this book, I would certainly be looking out the others in the series.

Octavian is a flawed character, though not the sort of pretty, introspective type of vampire which has become the stuff of teenage novels. His flaws lead to a much more satisfyingly complex character. Golden uses the good old John Wyndham plot device of sealing the town off from the rest of the world, heightening the sense of a doom which the town’s population suffers, as Hawthorne turns into a savage version of Hotel California.

Golden adds an extra layer of intrigue into the novel with the introduction of a newly made vampire, Charlotte, who has been turned by Cortez, a powerful vampire who should have been long dead. Her naivety and struggle to come to terms with her nature makes for an insightful juxtaposition with Octavian’s, seemingly, comfort with his own condition, throwing up aspects of his split and conflicting character. She successfully creates a bridge between the vampires world, from what is once was to what it may evolve into. I feel another Octavian book in the works.

Fans of the series will be delighted to read a new instalment, but the book works just as well as an introduction to a whole new look on the modern vampire myth.


Charles Packer

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