Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Skarlet by Thomas Emson


Pages (Paperback): 448 pages
Publisher: Snowbooks Ltd.
Released: December 1, 2009

Quick Thoughts: I've mentioned that if there is a book where the author takes a popular supernatural creature, but changes it in a way to make it their own, I will almost always want to read about it. I liked what Emson did with Maneater, so I had high hopes for Skarlet.

Review: It's a normal night in London for Jake Lawton. Jake, a disgraced ex-solider, works as a bouncer at a local nightclub called Religion. The club is popular with wannabe vampires and goths and it's up to Jake to keep the clubs free from vermin and drug dealers.

Fraser Lithgow, a drug dealer, is usually not allowed to go into Religion, but gets special permission to go on in. There, Fraser does what he does best, give drugs to people. The drug today is one called Skarlet. He doesn't know what it does or how good it is, all he knows is someone told him to give it out and that is what he's going to do. Things should be normal for him, but when club goers start dying after taking the drug, his life just went from bad to worse.

Everyone who takes the drug dies almost instantly. Fraser knows it's due to his drug and Jake knows that Fraser did something. But why was he allowed into the club in the first place and who gave Fraser the drugs in the first place?

48 hours later, the dead clubbers come back to life and they're hungry and kind of disgusting, but mostly just hungry.

It's up to Jake, Fraser, and a journalist who ruined Jake's career, to team up and figure out what is going on, before it's too late.

Emson has a way with writing and the short chapters help make the novel fast paced. The action is amazing, and the Babylonian myth that he weaves into the story was nicely done. The characters, for the most part, are developed nicely. You may not like them, but you do understand where they are coming from. Jake is still bitter after being wrongfully discharged from the army. Fraser, well...Fraser is just stupid (but I like him that way) and thankfully, he does grow a bit as the novel goes on.

The story behind journalist, Christine, was the most realistic. I don't like journalists doing whatever they can to get a story, even if they have to ruin people's lives, and while I didn't like her, I did sympathize with her situation. Her home life, while frustrating to read, had a lot of truth in it. I know that there are a lot of couples going through what Christine is going through and I liked how Emson added this in.

The villains in the novel are human and hearing about them is one of the best parts in the novel. The first chapter is both horrifying and yet so satisfying at the end of it. You hear about the villains from the present, which was interesting, but it didn't have the impact that the flashback chapters about them had on me. They do some really bad things, but due to their actions from the flashbacks, they had redeeming qualities about them.

Final Thoughts: If you are a fan of vampire novels and enjoy horror, then definitely pick this book up. While Maneater had the theme of revenge, this one had survival and you could really feel it as you read the novel. I will say that the same problem that I had with Maneater did continue here, as there were some words and phrases were overused and made some of the dialogue repetitive. However, there were many things that I did like; the chapters remain short, keeping up with the fast pace of the novel, the characters were fleshed out nicely, and there is just so much action in this that it was just so much fun to read. The ending does leave you with some questions, but seeing as this is the first in a series, I'm sure we'll be seeing the answers soon. Can't wait to read more from this series and from Emson.

Grade: 9 out of 10

Need less bite? Read the shorter review at 5 Line Reviews

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