Book Review: Krimson by Thomas Emson

Hi all…

Vampires. In popular media today, vampires are more about masquerading as human in a human world than ripping your throat out and guzzling blood directly from your jugular vein with no pretense of any remaining humanity. These days, the word “vampire” tends to evoke images of wan, whiny teenagers or Civil War-era Louisiana gentlemen more than “cold blooded killers.”

Author Thomas Emson is working to change that. First with Skarlet in 2009 and now with the follow-up Krimson, Emson is embracing the monster in the vampire myth and providing hooks to thousands of years of history. And like the majority of human history, not all the monsters are inhuman. Sometimes it takes power-mad humans to resurrect the past even if they don’t quite understand the consequences of their actions…

In Skarlet, we were introduced to a modern-day London, England on the brink of change. A small group of men and women with bloodlines stretching back thousands of years have brought a drug to London’s youth. Distributed at a dance club called Religion, those who take the drug die and are reborn as vampiric killing machines with an unquenchable thirst for blood. One man – Iraqi war vet Jake Lawton – working as a bouncer at the club is drawn into this nightmare nobody can accept and fights against the monsters with a few companions he gains along the way.

What I loved about the first book was the use of multiple story lines from different eras of history. Emson incorporates the conquering of Babylon by Alexander the Great and battles between the Ottoman Turks and the British army in the 1920s alongside the Iraq War we’re still trying to finish and the modern day. Weaving in an alternate history based on real events made this a much more tangible tale to dive into.

Now with Krimson, the second book in the Vampire Trinity series, the story picks up three years later after the events of Skarlet. Jake is still fighting the good fight, but he’s getting tired. You can only go so long without sleep. And those left alive in positions of power in England are hunting him day and night, so his paranoia isn’t just due to exhaustion. He and his warrior woman Aaliyah have done damage to the vampire cause, but it’s like putting fingers in a dam about to burst – it’s impossible to cover all the cracks.

And like Skarlet, Emson does an amazing job of working an alternate history into the mix. This time it’s ancient Babylon and the time of Dracula in the mid-1400s. And though I wasn’t as surprised by the Babylon links this time around, I was very intrigued in how the Dracula myths were brought in. Again, the history set the stage for the events in the present day and was seamlessly integrated into what started in that first book.

After reading Zombie Brittanica, I was a bit concerned that Emson had lost his touch. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case. The first half of Krimson sets the stage and offers enough background that readers new to the series should have no problems diving in. For me, the action really didn’t get going until about the half-way mark. At that point it was as though a switch was thrown and we were in free fall to the end. All the characters of the first book are back and we start to see their individual threads get resolved one by one…

I can hardly wait for Kardinal, the conclusion of the trilogy, to be released in another year or two. Can Jake and his friends survive? Only Emson himself knows until the book is released!

If you want a taste of the book, be sure to check out the first three chapters at Thomas Emson’s website. Unfortunately US rights haven’t yet been sold, but you can order via Amazon and other retailers through international wholesalers!

This article first appeared at BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up these books at Amazon below!

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Book Review: Zombie Brittanica by Thomas Emson

Hey…

Have you ever had a sinking feeling when you read a new book by your favorite author? I’ve read the last three books from Thomas EmsonSkarlet, Maneater, and Prey. He’s brought vampires and werewolves into the real world, so I was looking forward to seeing what he’d do with zombies.

I love zombies. But I really only love them when they’re presented in a unique way, not relying on standard cliches. Unfortunately, I found myself wondering when the bad zombie movie would end.

Zombies are wonderful beasts. They’re men, but they’re monsters. Add in the fear of disease, the dead rising, and the repulsion of teeth ripping human flesh and organs, and you can really push some buttons. George Romero knew this when he wrote and directed Night of the Living Dead in 1968. He and other directors and movie makers have been terrorizing moviegoers ever since.

More recently there have been some great zombie novels that have been reinventing the genre. Mira Grant’s FEED and Jonathan Maberry‘s Patient Zero have been among my favorites. Grant merges blogging, politics, and a zombie apocalypse and Maberry uses biological warfare to spread a zombie plague.

With Emson’s previous reinvention of vampires and werewolves, mixing myths and history with the modern day, I was expecting more inventive approach to zombies. That “inventiveness” only went as far as having the dead rise during a particularly nasty heat wave in Great Britain.

Three main characters drive the action… Carrie Asher is a mother seeking to get through a zombie-infested London to rescue her six-year-old daughter Mya. Vincent is a young man stuck in a Welsh castle with the girl he loves and the zombies closing in all around. And Craig Murray is trapped with his family in a traffic jam in Scotland. Not only must he battle the undead, but the people seeking to prey on the weak during a time of crisis.

Woven into the narrative are all the typical zombie tales… They eat flesh and infect those who get bitten and manage to survive an attack. The survivors are like zombie grenades thrown into the future. When the victims die, they become zombies themselves. Add to that the people who break under the pressure – relying on their dogma to explain the situation, controlling others through fear and intimidation, and the people who simply give up.

I really like Emson’s prose, but I couldn’t get past all the cliches. Perhaps if I’d seen this on the big screen instead of read it as a novel, I would have enjoyed it more. But it’s been done to death, no pun intended.

If you’re interested in how the zombies capture London, I’d recommend the book. But if you’re looking for an original take on things, I’d avoid Emson’s Zombie Brittanica. Instead, check out his books Skarlet, Maneater, and Prey.

This article first appeared on BlogCritics.org here.

–Fitz

p.s. Check out these great books below:

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Book Review: Thomas Emson – Maneater

Hi all!

A few months ago I was privileged to read Thomas Emson‘s vampire tale, Skarlet, and really enjoyed it. I’ve always had a fascination for magical creatures in a mundane world and the world of Skarlet had a history and magic all its own.

After that, I had a chance to interview Emson and learned that a new novel in his werewolf series was coming out in February 2010, so I knew I needed to catch up a bit and read Maneater. Once again, I wasn’t disappointed.

Laura Greenacre isn’t your average girl. You really don’t want to get her angry or meet her in a dark alley when she’s mad. She may do worse than kill you. What’s worse you may ask? How about watching as your internal organs are eaten as you die? I think that qualifies. She has more than a bit of a violent streak.

And that violent streak is well earned. She watched her parents die when she was but a child – murdered as part of a family cleansing in a war between bloodlines that had gone on for ages. But she’d forgotten about all that. She tried to be normal. It just didn’t pan out for poor Laura.

On the other side you have John Thorn, a policeman assigned as a bodyguard to Sir Adam Templeton, a respected upper-crust member of British society. His family had power and influence and had grown to enjoy frequent abuses of those tools. Some of the younger members of the family wanted more. Thorn didn’t care about all of that. He simply tried to do his job the best he could.

But when Thorn gets between Sir Adam and Laura, things get a bit hairy. And that’s when the body count in the book begins to rise.

Maneater, like Skarlet, has a feeling of history to it. Unfortunately, where Skarlet provided more of that history to provide the backdrop for events in the present day, I felt that Maneater didn’t quite have the balance right between the past and the present. In this novel you have the present day, just a few years ago, and the distant past, and in places I felt that the past didn’t really come into play except at a very superficial level.

I actually wanted to know more about the history between the Templetons and the Greenacres. We learn late in the book some of the history that goes back to a time before the Roman Empire in Italy. It goes back to the story of Romulas and Remus, two Etruscan brothers. And unfortunately for me, the history is really just glossed over.

Other than that quibble, which I’m guessing will be cured by more books in the series, I really enjoyed Maneater and look forward to the sequel – Prey. And I’m very excited about the sequel to Skarlet that’s in the works as well – Krimson. (Check out my review of Skarlet here and my interview with Emson here.)

Be sure to check out Maneater before the sequel Prey hits a bookshelf near you!

–Fitz

p.s. Click below to pick up or pre-order this and other works from Thomas Emson from Amazon:

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