Review: 13 Bullets

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13 Bullets
13 Bullets by David Wellington
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I have not, hitherto, considered myself to be a reader of horror fiction – mostly because I’m a wimp and I don’t want to have nightmares. But I really enjoyed this one.

To be honest, it’s gory rather than scary, per se. Body count in triple figures, mostly courtesy of vampires who are actual monsters. These are not your wishy-washy sparkly vampires: these are predators. (Admittedly, I have a few minor quibbles with the way Wellington does vampires, but really, it’s his train set and he can play with it however he likes – and minor quibbles did not significantly detract from my enjoyment [during daylight hours] of the story.)

Laura Caxton, highway patrol trooper, makes an unpleasant discovery at a routine traffic stop – and gets conscripted as junior van Helsing by the United States’ best (only) vampire hunter: Special Deputy Arkeley. There must be something special about Laura, beyond the fact that she’s the only one who’s read Arkeley’s report of his last (only) vampire killing – mustn’t there?

The narrative follows the confused, scared Laura as she struggles to meet Arkeley’s expectations (if she can figure out what they are) and to work out why he wants her at all. And why the vampires seem to want her, too. I have never hunted vampires, but Laura’s reactions seemed to be pretty realistic – she goes through the gamut of this is cool/horror/fear/despair/terror/etc that a real person thrust into such a situation might do, rather than instantly becoming some kind of superpowered vampire killer. This was a nice change.

And I did like the twist at the end. Some might find it disappointing, but I thought it gave the whole book a new layer. You end up looking at the whole thing from a slightly different angle, and thinking yep, that’s life.

Thoroughly recommended.

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