London Under Midnight

Author: Simon Clark
Severn House
RRP: 9.99, US $14.95
ISBN: 978 0 7278 9180 8
Available 26 July 2007

Ben Ashton, a writer who deals with the paranormal, is the ideal candidate for his magazine to send into London to uncover the truth behind the hundreds of bits of graffiti all of which have a single message "VAMPIRE SHARKZ. They're coming to get you". His former girlfriend, April, is having a much worse day. Attacked by the Thames she awakes on an island surrounded by mutilated others, under the blinding light of the moon...

London Under Midnight is the new novel by Simon Clark, who has carved a successful niche for himself as a writer of predominantly vampire books. Without giving too much away, it would seem that an African deity has chosen London to test humanity. Some may feel that this is an odd choice and a little too contrived, however it must be remembered that this is a fantasy book and if you can suspend belief long enough to accept vampires then why not African deities. From a personal point of view it makes more sense for Clark to set it in London, a place he is more familiar with, than say Johannesburg.

Clark does a fine job of bringing out all the gothic possibilities of London's streets. I grew up there, but this book has put a whole level of scary onto my memories. Mostly it comes from his ability to write very graphic, visceral scenes of death, gore and horror. Not a book to be read just before bedtime.

His characters are well fleshed out and engaging enough for you to care what happens to them and the pace of the book is nice and tight. I particularly like Elmo, an aged African who sits atop a poll in a boat telling passers by that the end of the world is coming. With the help of Elmo and Trajan, April's unfortunate boyfriend, Ben sets off to save the world in eleven days, but then he can, he's a writer with an expense account.

Overall a nice if scary read, a bit like The Stand only shorter.

Charles Packer

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