The Fall: Fall in Love with Death by Stephen Cost
File Size: 3014 KB
Print Length: 298 pages
Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1500910325
Publisher: Stephen Cost (September 16, 2014)
Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
Author website: www.stephencost.com
The three exports Ireland's primarily known for are sweaters, Guinness, and...uh...Irish. (Don't start. My mother's original maiden name was Duffy.) This represents a tragic, lost financial opportunity for the Emerald Isle. Because Ireland's most important export should be...vampires. For Ireland is the spiritual home of every bloodsucker tale, movie, TV show, comic, manga, anime, and probably a dozen other literary and video categories I'm missing. Ireland is also, may the good lord forgive us, the true progenitor of Kristen Stewart and the entire awful Twilight series. (Ireland is also indirectly responsible for those godawful Leprechaun movies, though any film series that features Jennifer Aniston being menaced by Warwick Davis can't be all bad.)
Bram Stoker, you see, was Irish (a Protestant, but in favor of home rule). If only the country had attempted to copyright the entire fanged meme a la the Greek attempt to trademark "feta cheese." Generations of poverty might have been avoided. As the royalties flowed in, Ireland might have been diverted from its favorite pastimes of Catholics shooting Protestants, Protestants shooting Catholics pub bombing (both sides), both sides shooting at the British and just being bloody minded about life in general.
During his life, Stoker's daytime job consisted of managing the career and theater of the great but largely forgotten British actor Henry Irving, who is widely believed to have been the physical model for Dracula. (Take a look at his portrait and you'll understand the speculation.) On his off hours, Stoker was a prolific writer who wrote at least a dozen novels, including Dracula, and several collections of short stories. His oeuvre is regarded as uneven, but it hardly matters. His tale of the undying Hungarian predator and Ottoman foe is the genre's masterpiece and Stoker's literary heirs prolific almost to a fault. And when it came to horror, Stoker was no one hit wonder, as anyone who has read his unforgettable short story, The Squaw, will attest to.
Dracula is perhaps the most famous example of the epistolary style of novel. The narrative of the book is carried by diaries and letters, which leads to some inadvertently funny scenes if you stop to think about. Like this one:
"The air seems full of specks, floating and circling in the draught from the window, and the lights burn blue and dim. What am I to do? God shield me from harm this night! I shall hide this paper in my breast, where they shall find it when they come to lay me out."
Dracula, Bram Stoker
The above leads a logical person to ask "Hey lady. If you've got the strength to write elaborate descriptive prose while the vampire's trying to get into your room, why don't you just get the hell out of the room?"
But this is carping. Dracula's blend of repressed Victorian psycho-sexual desire, blood letting, and dread claustrophobia is irresistible. And if Stephen King had written the above, he'd have found a reason to throw in some projectile vomiting or something similar, so I should be grateful to Bram. And I am. Though to be fair to The Master, Salem's Lot was pretty damn scary.
Incredibly enough, the original manuscript of Dracula, thought lost after Stoker's death in 1912, was found intact in the 1980s in a farm house in western Pennsylvania. I'm sure there's a horror story in there somewhere. Someone out there go out and write it. I'll give you a review.
The Fall thus represents a noble, and in my view, long overdue effort by the Sons of Erin (author Cost grew up in Ireland) to regain some portion of the Stoker Franchise. Let's see how well he does.
The protagonist of the story, Giles, is technically not a vampire but a reaper, an immortal (though not invulnerable) energy and blood sucking monster. Reapers periodically manifest themselves among us naked, in fresh graves, a fascinating leitmotif. (I suspect the writer may have seen Wings of Desire at one time or another.) After this grim birth, reapers are compelled to snack on the occasional human, though they can make the moral choice to sustain from their grisly diet and thus forego immortality. Giles has not given up his human-protein approach to caloric intake, but has made the decision to dine on only the evil and morally depraved (think of him as a toothy type of Charles Bronson a la the Death Wish movies). When we first meet him, he's a relatively young three centuries old, of Irish...err...extraction (at least that's where his grave was located) and is living in Seattle. Why Seattle? Good god man, have you ever eaten Irish cuisine?
Not unreasonably, Giles thinks of himself as our society's apex predator. Then one night, when out for supper, he finds to his great shock that he just may not be at the top of the food chain any longer. From this point on, the book commences a cat and mouse hunt and struggle between our hero and a creature nasty and powerful enough to make the reaper fear him.
While the battle between the monsters rages, Giles takes time out to fall in love with Emma, the daughter of his greatest friend Gallus, an old reaper who's gone vegan, so to speak, married a mortal, and settled down to the bloodsucker version of domesticity. Emma is equally drawn to our Giles, but he is justifiably wary of becoming too involved with her lest Galllus, in our reaper's words, use "his head as a hockey puck." As the father of an only daughter, I call tell you Giles' speculations on fatherly sentiments are accurate. I certainly did consider using the bodily parts of my daughter's boyfriends for fun and amusement if I thought them not up to snuff and wasn't afraid to share my thoughts on the topic, and the particular parts I'd be using, with them. You may think I'm old fashioned but I can report the tactic is effective.
One thing I particularly liked about The Fall is that the book returns us to the elegant vampire, something I think is long overdue. Over the years, we've had gothic vampires (the Blade films and comics), yuppie vampires (the Fright Night franchise), hooker vampires (Dusk to Dawn and siblings) and most recently Starbucks vampires (the never ending Twilight series). I guess Tom Cruise was on the elegant side in Interview With the Vampire but boy was Brad Pitt morose.
But I'm old fashioned. I've always felt that every vampire should have a little "Goot evening" in them and The Fall upholds that glorious tradition. Giles drives a Porsche, wears Prada and Gucci, and is an oenophile who makes a living writing a wine column for an upscale magazine. He's also a java snob who owns a Jura Impressa coffee maker and while I was reading the novel, discovered it's possible to order a cup of coffee that costs $70 dollars. In short, Giles is my type of vampire and I'd love to be invited to his place for dinner if I could be sure I wasn't on the menu.
To sum up, The Fall is a fun, exciting read in the honorable bloodsucker genre featuring a dashing but undying hero, a luscious heroine concealing intriguing mysteries, much supernatural double dealing, lots of death, and a climax that ends with Giles setting out to redeem his life and retrieve his woman. What more can you ask from a vampire book?
Erin go blood.
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