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Blood Brothers

Brian Lumley

Tor Fiction Hardcover

US Hardcover First


408 pages; $22.95

Reviewed by Rick Kleffel (c) 2001



Horror, Fantasy, Science Fiction

The voice of the vampire -- powerful, unscrupulous, passionate -- is arguably the most enjoyable aspect of any vampire novel. That's why Anne Rice's romantic outcasts, who speak so eloquently, have captured the imaginations of so many readers. But not every writer sees the vampire as does Anne Rice.

Brian Lumley takes the opposite approach in "Blood Brothers", creating a lurid fantasy set in a world where vampires have ruled since time immemorial. Because this novel is the both the beginning of a new series and the follow-up to another, Lumley has a lot of explaining to do. His premise is that the sons of Harry Keogh (the hero of his "Necroscope" series), one good, one bad, are all that stands between humanity and a cadre of vampires hidden in the mountains. It makes the beginning of the novel seem a bit fragmented. But Lumley's strength is in his jovial voice, a diction that dominates the entire narrative of this novel.

It's almost as if your unsavory British uncle is there telling you the story, nudging, winking and poking you at all the right times. When Nestor, the "bad" brother, is asked to describe Nathan, his reticent sibling, he replies: "'Oh, he's interested, sure enough. Interested in all the weird unanswerable things. Stars in the sky: how many are there. Ripples on a river: why he can't count them. Where people go when they die, as if the smoke from their funeral pyres wasn't answer enough in itself." The reader encounters Brian Lumley everywhere, hiding behind the characters, telling their stories in his own inimitable fashion. This device is especially effective when he takes on the voice of a dead vampire, telling its tale of treachery and woe. "Perhaps I was hard with them...But it's a hard world (he was quick to defend his unspoken brutalities), in which I wanted my sons to be strong. And so they were strong in the end, but not as I intended. They were strong against me!...They gave me strong drink to deaden my senses, poisoned my food with silver, and while I lay in a coma...blinded me! ...they had brought me here, to a refuse pit!...Too weak to struggle on, at last I slumped against the wall, where in the course of fifty years I commenced my stiffening. Thus Eygor Killglance became the mummy thing which you saw in your dreams..." Lumley's love of his pulp-horror subjects is gleefully apparent. He revels in every telling detail, in stories-within-stories and convoluted histories of the self-mutating vampires. He writes in the grand style of the serial, and true to form, he ends this novel with hints of what will happen in the sequel. While Lumley's audience may be limited, those who like grand pulp adventure will find unlimited enjoyment in "Blood Brothers".