If you’re looking for a superficial take on the vampire genre with some interesting possibilities that aren’t fully realized, this book is for you.
The Gloaming, Rise of the Stealth Elder is the second novel in a series by ML Worthingham. I haven’t read the first, but I don’t think that matters much for my critique of the book.
Let’s start with what’s good: there are some interesting takes on how vampires work, some slightly original angles on the idea of myths versus truths of vampires, and the inter-vampire politics are interesting as well. I also admit that part of me wants to find out what happens next.
The problem is that this isn’t a good book.
First, the grammar and spelling are a problem. While most of the book is fine, it appears that only the first couple of chapters were actually reviewed by an editor. As the book goes on, there are more awkward sentences, misused words, misspellings, etc. It’s not constant, but it happens often enough that it is very distracting.
Next, the author pads the book with unnecessary descriptions of all of the things surrounding the vampires: computers, watches, and, oh, so many descriptions of cars. Look, I like cars, I get car magazines. When every fifth sentence seems to be a description of a vehicle, it starts to get old. It wouldn’t be so bad if somehow the cars represented an analysis of the characters. There is very little of that, and what there is of it doesn’t really paint a picture of the characters, which is the presumable point. It’s as if the author wrote “He had an expensive car,” and that information alone was supposed to tell the reader something about the character. It does, in a very superficial way, but given that pretty much all of these vampires have expensive cars, that doesn’t really tell us much.
Review: The Gloaming, Rise of the Stealth Elder
Speaking of characters, while I can give you some idea of the types of people these characters are (it passes the Red Letter Media character test), whatever characteristics I could relate take up maybe 1/10 of the words written. Meanwhile, it seems like half of the words are, again, about the cars, and a quarter are about breast size. That’s an exaggeration, but it’s how it feels.
By the way, if you like disembodied clinical descriptions of breast size, without even the colorful nomenclature of a construction worker on the street, you’ll find plenty of that here. Men seem to not have anything equivalent to describe, but even their descriptions seem to fall flat.
Maybe, then, this is an erotic novel. It is, if “They had sex. Oral, but no anal” is a sentence you consider erotic.
What is really disappointing in this novel is that it really has potential. The bones are there, but they simply aren’t fleshed out. It’s likely this will end up being adapted into a third tier cable series at some point, and perhaps whomever produces that can fix what’s wrong in screenwriting or casting, although that’s seriously unlikely, given the person who inevitably will read these novels and say “We need to make a TV show out of this!” wouldn’t actually have the desire to make it happen.
As it stands, Rise of the Stealth Elder just gives me a case of blue fangs. It feels like a middle book in a trilogy that doesn’t do what you need a middle book to do: hold your interest enough to get you excited about the upcoming conclusion. Having received a copy for free, if the next one comes on the same terms, I’ll probably read it. I wouldn’t, however, buy it, and I don’t encourage you to do that, either.
The Gloaming, Rise of the Stealth Vampire Elder
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Eliot has been orbiting show business for over 20 years as an improv comedian, video director, and general guy you might barely recognize. Currently best known for his work on the comedy podcast Never Not Funny: The Jimmy Pardo Podcast. He wrote previously for MacEdition.com, and is working on a collection of short sci-fi and weird tales that will probably be published someday. He is also one of three principals in Modest Games.