Okay, so I’ll start this review by stating for the record that I’m not the world’s biggest vampire fan. In fact, I’m not a fan at all. I go out of my way to avoid the vast majority of vampire novels. So, yes, it was unfortunate that the synopsis of Blood River isn’t a little clearer that vampires are the beasties involved. Maybe the ‘perfect, sensual woman’ and ‘creature of pure evil with a taste for human blood’ should have clued me in. Either way, I decided to soldier on regardless. But I think it’s only fair to point out that a vampire lover might enjoy this a lot more than I did.
Oh, one other thing I should mention. One thing I dislike more than vampires? Awkward sex scenes.
Blood River plays on the tried and tested horror cliché of naïve youngsters picking up a mysterious (and extremely ominous looking) hitchhiker. One thing I did like is that Greske turned this cliché on its head by having the hitchhiker be a sexy girl, rather than a creepy old man. Nicely done.
I did like the characterisation in Blood River, especially where Godfrey was concerned (he was great!) and the boys did work well as a group of friends. They were believable and I did grow to like them, though not enough to feel particularly invested in their futures.
So the characterisation and the hitchhiking were the positives. Unfortunately, that’s about as much praise as I can possibly drag out for Blood River. It just didn’t work for me. The main reason why? Sensual bloodletting. Two words that are never going to do anything for me.
However, if sensual bloodletting (even the phrase is so cringe worthy it makes me want to curl up in the foetal position and weep) is your thing then I’m pretty sure you will go insane for Blood River. Trust me, there is enough sensual bloodletting (foetal position) to keep you more than satisfied.
Unfortunately this isn’t one that I can recommend. As I said, maybe hardcore vampire fans will enjoy it but the writing and the story just weren’t strong enough to change my mind about the genre. However, if you think this may be the book for you then do check out this
(http://tjbook-list.blogspot.com/2009/12/guest-review-blood-river-by-david.html) great review over at Alternative-Read.com.
Winds of Change is an interesting little novel that I certainly enjoyed a lot more than I thought I would. I found it lingered in my mind for a long while after reading and I would love to see an epic ‘The Mist’ style film adaptation coming soon.
Brannon has a great style. His voice is strong and the way he builds tension through snappy short sentences is brilliant. The characters we meet in Winds of Change are a varied bunch and very well written – there is quite a large cast in this novel but I didn’t find myself confused as to who was who, which I think is very important when we’re introduced to a lot of characters are once.
The tone in Winds of Change is very, very dark and Brannon managed to make me jump over and over again without the use of excess gore or cheap scare tactics. There was something about Winds of Change that was genuinely unsettling and I thoroughly enjoyed it from the outset.
The religious undertones are something that I think Brannon handled particularly well. They were very much present without being too in your face and added a really interesting element to the story.
Stephen Susco (screenwriter of Pulse, one of my favourites) stated "It is a rare treat to find a modern horror writer whose work is truly a mirror of the darkest corners of the world we all share. Jason Brannon is one to watch.” I definitely agree with him. After reading Winds of Change I’m keen to try more of Brannon’s work so will be keeping my eyes peeled, especially for his famed short story collections. If you’re after something a little bit different that is heavy on characterisation and atmosphere then I’d definitely point you in the direction of Winds of Change; it’s a real treat.