Eldren: The Book Of The Dark
Published 2007 250 pages
Hidden deep under the cellar of a derelict house in the West of Scotland an ancient vampire lies dormant, pinned into a stone coffin by a great jewelled sword thrust through its heart.
Tony and Billy, two boys from the local town know that they aren’t allowed to go into the creepy abandoned house on the moor but Tony is fed up of Billy thinking that he’s a liar and is determined to show Billy the secret room that he knows is under the cellar. When they find the coffin with the skeleton and sword, Billy wants the sword. By removing it from the skeleton he releases the vampire from its prison and pays for it with his life.
When Tony ran from the vampire he was holding an ancient bible that he found in the cellar. Unable to believe what he saw was real the only proof he has that he was in the cellar is the book. The book tells of the religion of the Eldren - a race of blood drinkers that God created before humans but cast out for the sin of drinking blood.
As the vampire gains strength it begins to prey on the inhabitants of the town. Nobody will believe Tony when he tells them that a vampire is responsible for the deaths and by the time the dead come back to life it is too late. The only things that can stop the vampires from spreading are the words contained in the Eldren bible and the courage of some unlikely heroes.
Scottish author William Meikle has created a darkly realistic vision of a Scotland where vampires exist and occasionally crop up to chomp on the local population. American authors are often guilty of romanticizing Scotland and its inhabitants, even in horror genre writing. William Meikle has served up a somewhat depressed town in Western Scotland, with high unemployment, alcoholic teachers and drunk, abusive fathers. Into this mundane human reality he has inserted an ancient vampire to spread bloodlust and evil of the supernatural variety.
The heroes of this story are all realistic, believable human characters. When faced with vampires they behave in ways that you would expect - they are by turns disbelieving and scared. In parts of the novel you can almost smell their fear.
The vampire slayer who arrives to deal with the vampire outbreak is another realistic human character. He has no special powers - he was not chosen at birth for his sacred duty but is an ordinary man (considered to be a lunatic by the authorities) who is driven to kill vampires after losing his family to a vampire attack.
Eldren: The Book Of The Dark is well plotted; characters and sub-plots are introduced and eventually tied up to the reader’s satisfaction. The vampire outbreak in the town has more than a whiff of classic zombie outbreak about it but this just adds to the tension in the story.
This well written novel effectively delivers both horror and low-key fantasy. Once you start reading the need to find out the fate of the characters will keep the pages turning late into the night.
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