John Skipp & Craig Spector’s THE LIGHT AT THE END is a vamp novel first published in 1986, but don’t let that put you off. This is awesome stuff and a delightfully far cry from Anne Rice.
And a million miles from Stephanie Meyer.
The story’s set in 80s New York, where a serial killer (who turns out to be a recently sired vampire) is rampaging around the underground. The action plays out mostly during night time, lending the book a real Noir feel. The characters are as hard boiled as you like; our unlikely heroes being the D&D obsessed employees of a delivery company, our main vamp a grumpy old goth that feels more Iggy Pop than the Vampire Lestat. In fact, rumour has it that Skipp & Spector’s antagonist, Rudy, was a big inspiration to Joss Whedon in sketching out the character of bad boy Spike for similarly groundbreaking vamp romp, BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER. And I’d believe that.
THE LIGHT AT THE END is thought by many to be one of the first splatterpunk novels ever written. And that’s probably true also: there’s certainly enough gore and violence in the book to qualify.
It’s also an exceptionally well written book. Character-driven, for one thing. The flow is perfect, for another, the prose and dialogue bending so well that it’s hard to put the book down once you lift it. There’s a really nice colloquial vibe about this book, the authors’ voice both confident and definitive. And it’s not without its chills. THE LIGHT AT THE END preys on the mind as much as it preys on the gut.
To be honest, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s got everything I love in a horror story: thrills, chills, great characters, loads of gore and a well layered plot. Although written in 1986, it mostly (with the exception of one scene, featuring a roller skating Jesus freak lobbing Holy Water bombs at our hapless vamp) feels contemporary, and definitely stands the test in time.
Simply put, I loved it.
The 25th Anniversary edition of THE LIGHT AT THE END is available now through Crossroad Press.