Thursday, February 27, 2020

Awakening by John Russo

by John Russo
1983 Pocket Books

Doctor Benjamin Latham is executed for vampirism in late 18th century America.  He wasn't a vampire then, but the burial ritual prevented his soul from leaving his body and ironically causes him to be a pseudo-vampire.  He has mind control, can cloud men's minds like the Shadow, super strength, super resilience, and poisonous saliva.

Construction work disturbs his coffin and he comes to life in Pennsylvania.  After a little "man displaced in time" business like Time After Time, Latham settles into doing day labor and killing muggers every month for subsistence.  We get a lot of him experimenting with his powers, like a less entertaining version of The Greatest American Hero.

About halfway through the novel we switch gears and Latham tracks down his ancestors, only to find his great, great, etc grand nephew is a serial killer.  We follow the serial killer for a while, occasionally popping over to see if a detective cheats on his wife, and things just kind of fizzle out.

Russo's rambling plots are often refreshingly unpredictable, but here things just go nowhere.  Combined with his usual "tell don't show" style of storytelling, this was a hard one to get through.  It barely qualifies as horror, and even less as romance, which it was branded as in a 90s reissue.  On the plus side, Russo came out with a bad vampire novel and bad serial killer novel years before the glut that destroyed horror fiction.

Available in ebook for Kindle, currently in Kindle Unlimited, and available in audiobook from Audible.

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