Some things just go together perfectly: fish and chips, salt and vinegar, vampires and angst. The latter has become such a staple of bloodsucking lore that I’m crying out for a happy-go-lucky vampire who sees the positive side of being undead and uses the fact that he can only go out at night to take advantage of the supermarket being less crowded.
The trend of vampires with a chip on their shoulder continues with Robert McCammon’s ‘I Travel By Night’. Our hero, Trevor Lawson, was a soldier in the Civil War and was turned by The Dark Society who saw the battlefield as easy pickings for food. Still retaining a sense of right and wrong, Lawson fled the Society and becomes an adventurer who attempts to help others while striving to overcome his vampire dark side.
In this novella, which serves as an introduction to the character, Lawson is hired by a man whose daughter has been kidnapped and the captors are demanding that our Trev deliver the ransom. Knowing that this is most likely a trap, he goes anyway, having some adventures on the way, including picking up a potential sidekick that may come in handy for any potential future instalments.
The novella is just 152 pages long but, blimey, McCammon sure packs a lot in. It’s a strange but admirable decision to limit himself to a novella when many other authors drag out their stories to breaking point just to get to a full-length novel. In fact, he should be held up as a best-case example of writing to the length the story needs to be told rather than filling out copy just to reach a pre-determined word count. However, there are times that McCammon is overly colourful with his use of language and whole paragraphs could be cut without being missed, especially a second description of how Trevor Lawson became a vampire to another character.
There is some odd use of language by McCammon that seems quite dated but given the story is set in 1886, this can be overlooked, possibly even praised as he doesn’t allow modern language to creep into a period tale.
There are no doubt more Trevor Lawson stories to tell and I feel that now the character has been established, there is opportunity for him to grow. It’s easy to see shades of ‘Highlander’ in this book, the immortal wanderer attempting to do right, so perhaps Lawson could be seen in all manner of time frames and locations in future tales.
It’s an old-fashioned fun tale that isn’t too taxing.
(pub: Subterranean Press. 147 page deluxe hardback. Price: $35.00 (US). ISBN: 978-1-59606-537-6)
check out website: www.subterraneanpress.com