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Skarlet Cover Picture


Thomas Emson

Published 2009          425 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

Fear grips London as dozens of clubbers die after taking a sinister new drug. But that's only the beginning. Forty-eight hours later, the dead clubbers wake up - and it's open season on the living, who are butchered for their blood.

Soon, London gives a name to its terror: Vampires.

Jake Lawton, bitter and betrayed after the Iraq War, finds himself fighting another battle - against the growing army of immortal hunters and their human cohorts. Lawton joins forces with the journalist who brought about his downfall and the dealer tricked into distributing the drug. And together they take on the spineless authorities, the ruthless cohorts, and the hungry dead.

But the vampire plague unleashed in London is nothing to what lurks beneath the streets - waiting to be fed ...waiting to be resurrected ...waiting to reign again over a city of human slaves...

The Review

Skarlet is the first novel in a vampire horror trilogy by British author Thomas Emson. Skarlet isn’t the author’s first book; previous novels include 2008’s Maneater, the first novel in a werewolf horror trilogy.

Skarlet gets off to a slow but compelling start as Jake Lawton, nightclub bouncer and disgraced ex-soldier, finds himself embroiled in a plot to raise a vampire army and overthrow the order of the state. For Jake things start off small - first he sees multiple people (including his ex-girlfriend) die from taking bad drugs at the club where he works. Next he is wanted by the police, fitted up as the drug dealer who sold the killer pills. Finally he gets to meet his undead ex again by which time he has already realised that he has more problems than just the investigative journalist who seems to be out to get him.

With the dead rising as hungry vampires at a rapid rate and rampaging through the night time streets of London it isn’t long before their victims start to rise too and the vampire population explodes.  These vampires aren’t the suave, sexy vampires of paranormal romance or urban fantasy but these are much closer to their horror story roots – smelling of rotten blood and decay they are dirty, dishevelled and relentlessly hungry for blood. 

At this point Skarlet could have turned into a story with the plotline of a zombie movie – all the ingredients are there - but the author avoids the obvious and settles instead upon a plotline that evolves a large conspiracy, reaching back to Babylonian times, to raise a trinity of vampire demons. The story focuses on the determination of a small group of people who can see what is happening and are willing to fight to stop vampires from taking over Britain.

While Skarlet’s vampire horror plot is a treat to read and delivers almost non-stop action after it gets started, some of the writing – in particular that used when people are confronted by attacking vampires – gets a bit repetitive after a while. In fact, I was left wondering if this novel had been sponsored by Tena (the UK’s top supplier of incontinence products) with the number of bladder problems that were encountered during vampire confrontations over the course of the story! Bladders were occasionally “queasy”, frequently “heavy”, often “cold” and sometimes “cold and heavy” – it’s no wonder that the “stink of piss” was used as a descriptive phrase on more than one occasion.

For me, the author’s descriptive writing style detracted from the story but the plotline and content of story itself was great. London is gritty and grimy rather than glamorous, the vampires are mindless killing machines and the story’s heroes are all realistically un-heroic.  Fast pacing is maintained through out the book and the overall result is a most readable novel. 

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5

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