Tuesday, April 24, 2007

"The Time of Feasting" by Mick Farren

This is one of those books that I probably could have and would have put down if I was a bit busier. The plot is pretty basic, the characters weren't too bad, the action was humdrum - until the last 100 pages. Then the thing took off like a flash. Just wish Farren had put a little more effort into the other 2/3 of the book.

Renquist is a vampire well over 1000 years old. He is the Master of the New York colony of vampires, a group of bloodsuckers basically living on the down-low. They really don't do much; no one has a job, no one really goes out much, they don't draw attention to themselves. It's best this way; there was a slaughter of vampires in 1919 and they've tried to hide themselves ever since.

Now there's a new generation of Nosferatu, and they want to go out and play. Especially now, during the Feasting, a sort of crazed blood lust that rolls around every seven years. Normally, these times of gluttony are handled by the colony going "on vacation" to far away lands where such things won't be noticed, foreign countries in political turmoil or besieged by plague. Renquist has decided that this time will be different. The colony will stay in New York and the members have been ordered to make their kills look like the work of a serial killer. One of these young vampires, Carfax, is determined to go all out, as he is tired of hiding in the Residence. He feels that as a vampire, his heritage allows him to do whatever he wants whenever he wants, that he is superior to humans. Needless to say, this sort of teen-aged tantrum is going to cause problems.

Also threatening the Colony is Kelly, an alcoholic defrocked priest, who sees Renquist and immediately knows what he is. Once he decides that this is his chance to make right with God, Kelly dogs Renquist and makes it his mission to kill the vampires. He enlists the aid of two NYC detectives, neither of whom is mentally ready for the idea of the undead roaming their city streets.

As I said, the first 2/3 of the book is just OK. There's a lot of exposition about the nature of the vampires, how the colony is set up, the relationships within the colony, etc. There's also some stuff about how the vamps were originally created by aliens, which sort of made sense, and sort of didn't. It seemed a bit "out there", even for a vampire novel! And again, the character development is all over the place. Renquist and a few of the other vampires are fairly well-rounded, while other characters are rather one-note. Carfax certainly falls into this latter category, which is too bad. Imagine how much better this might have been had he not come across as a petulant child, if he'd had more reason for his actions other than "I want to!" The action in the last hundred pages was good, enough to keep me reading to the end, as the story finally got exciting.

This is the first in a series by Farren. I'm not sure I'll read any of the other entries, though.

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