Set within the backdrop of London and where gangs rule the streets, we soon discover that there is something even worse than those thugs wielding shanks, gang members peddling drugs with machetes and the robbing of children’s youth. Something evil is prowling these streets, something that has been wandering the earth with an insatiable thirst for death and destruction and it’s ready to feast.
We are thrown straight into a gruesome and tension filled opening by Soule who wastes no time in gripping the reader by the throat and waterboarding us with his usual unflinching breed of horror. The one thing you are guaranteed with Dan Soule’s work is that the first chapter will take hold of you and demand that you keep reading, and that is what can be said of ‘Savage’.
I was also spoilt with this book as I was able to listen to the first eight chapters of the audio book (which I think you can get if you sign up to Dan Soule’s mailing list – along with links to some freebie books too). Which was a perfect way to start this story, I’m not really a fan of audio books, but this one was top notch and the narrator did such a fabulous job in getting to the heart and soul of the piece – given its set in London the accent work is just amazing!
With ‘Savage’ Soule takes a horror trope which although it has been flogged to death (in my opinion) in recent years it’s appeal doesn’t seem to be waining and in fact it seems to be increasing – I’m talking about the Vampiric (other authors currently working in this field include Chad Lutzke, Villimey Mist, Glenn Rolfe, Dixon Reuel and many others).
Soule takes the vampiric trope, turns it on its head and reassesses what he wants to keep. He’s like Dr. Frankenstein deciding what parts of this tired body of work he’ll want to keep and which chunks of useless flesh (tropes) he wants to do away with – and then he’s left with a beautiful beast of his own macabre creation.
With ‘Savage’ Soule trims all the fat from what gone before and we’re left with a new diabolical creation, one that is more horrific than I ever thought possible and bloody enjoyable. Soule’s vision of the vampiric and his deft skill as a writer of horror works in cementing this as a must read for any fans of the vampiric… trust me, this will blow your mind.
Another thing you can be sure of with Soule’s work is that his characters will be on point. His main protagonists Dylan, Vieil and Kenny are fully rounded and their voices are just perfect, I think again that listening to the first several chapters in the audio book helped cement these voices in my head, but I’d expect to have felt the same if I’d just been reading the words as it’s a common occurrence with Soule’s canon of work. But what I enjoyed in this offering more than his other works is that even his many secondary characters (Butcher, Roj, Samuel and the quite brilliant Henry Grime) punch through the crowd and you find yourselves totally immersed in this busy world that Soule has crafted.
What I enjoyed about this book is how detailed the plot is, it also shows a progression in Soule’s writing and story telling prowess as Soule blends crime and horror to perfection. There were some places I thought the exposition was a bit overdone, but looking back now it just helped to further root you in this fully immersive world that Soule has painstakingly stitched together – it’s a big story, a long story, but worth the investment.
The first third of the book we follow closely an ongoing investigation into a possible Jack The Ripper copycat killer – Kenny and Roj are those tasked with sifting though these heinous crimes and the tension and pacing in these sections is something quite brilliant, I also enjoyed the factual information that Soule has incorporated in these parts too.
And then we have the shift in the second third to full blown horror, where the meat and bones (pardon the pun) of the story come to the surface. Soule is someone that knows horror, it seems to flow within his veins and there are many nods to other material both film and books which I enjoyed discovering.
Then Soule is able to keep his hands firmly on the reigns and pulls all these thread together steering us expertly into the final third of the book where the ending is just a horror infused nightmare – I did ponder the ending after finishing, I thought it was going to go one way, but Soule had other plans, and in a way looking back it works, it has some religious metaphors at play, and when I sat down to write this review I realised it yet I think it gives us the perfect ending in a way.
There is much going on in this book, it’s busy and you need to pay attention (many characters and plot points) and if you do pay attention the final result is just breathtaking and then you throw in there a conclusion that gleans the very best from the genre, a macabre banquet of good vs evil – Soule stuffs everything in a cocktail shaker and pours us a beautiful tall drink of what horror is all about!
‘Savage’ by Dan Soule is one of the most original and disturbing vampiric tales since John Ajvide Lindqvist’s ‘Let The Right One In’ – don’t let this one escape your attention!
You can get a copy of Savage here.
Dan is a horror author, who was born and raised in Nottinghamshire, England, growing up in a small cathedral town called Southwell. He moved to Glasgow, Scotland aged 19 and met his now wife, a Northern Irish girl. Hence, Dan now lives in Northern Ireland on the beautiful Antrim Coast, with his wife and two children, Cassie the cat and Jessie the dog. His author website with a bonus book is www.dansoule.com
Reviewed by Ross Jeffery
Unlike many other Arts & Entertainment Magazines, STORGY is not Arts Council funded or subsidised by external grants or contributions. The content we provide takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce, and relies on the talented authors we publish and the dedication of a devoted team of staff writers. If you enjoy reading our Magazine, help to secure our future and enable us to continue publishing the words of our writers. Please make a donation or subscribe to STORGY Magazine with a monthly fee of your choice. Your support, as always, continues to inspire.