Savage: Dan Soule
Reviewed By Steve Stred
‘Savage’ is my fourth dive into Soule’s world and is another piece that shows just how diverse an author he is. From folklore to post-apocalyptic and now to a reimagining of vampire lore, he really doesn’t set any boundaries on his writing or what he wants to tackle.
I was hesitant at first to take this on. For a few reasons. It’s loosely based around Jack the Ripper/Whitechapel history. I’m actually not a fan of Jack the Ripper horror or even the enduring mystery of that entire event. I’m not sure why, but it has never appealed to my interest in dark things and it’s one reason why I’ll pass on other books that attempt to retell the story or reimagine it. This leads me to the second hesitation: vampires. I’ve grown weary of reading anything vamp and often struggle with it, as I don’t find them scary or intriguing.
But, the other story here, the coming-of-age story where a boy steps onto the lot and disappears. That intrigued me, and after how amazing Soule’s last release ‘The Ash’ was, I decided to take it on.
KR: You can read the Kendall Review for The Ash HERE
What I liked: Dylan is a young paperboy, living in a world of crooks and crime. When he is chased by some bullies who mean to do him serious harm, he finds himself before a strange house.
From here, Soule really gives us a layered story of trust and mystery. I loved how Dylan seemingly was searching for an adult figure that he could trust and rely on, even if that figure enjoyed inflicting carnage on those around them.
Soule does some really great things with these characters and as the story moves along we get to see a depth to each of them, which we often don’t in vampire stories. Even when things get gruesome and bloody, the characters are solid.
What I didn’t like: As I mentioned, reader mileage may vary on this based on your love of vampire lore and even Whitechapel related events. Additionally, at the beginning we get a lot of characters thrust at us, so to start with I had trouble recalling who was who.
Why you should buy this: Soule is a fantastic writer and his willing to go dark is never more evident than in ‘Savage.’ The story is brutal and filled with blackness that will really capture those readers who love that type of tale.
Jack is back, but he isn’t even the worst thing on the streets of Whitechapel…
The Ripper copycat murders are on the front pages, and Dylan is just a paperboy forced to deliver drugs along with the morning news. When a new house appears on his paper round, fate pushes Dylan into a rival gang’s territory. Risking being stabbed and robbed, he delivers the paper to 25 Gallows Court. But there’s something not quite right about the rundown house. Apart from being boarded up, and guarded by a rabid dog, no one else seems able to see it. Not the shopkeepers on either side. Not even the three kids from the Duppy Crew who chase Dylan one morning. When he steps off the pavement and vanishes from view, the house seems to offer protection from a cruel and unforgiving world. On the backstreets of London, where life is cheap, there are always deals to be made. Dylan might want to be a little more careful with whose offer he takes. Because what he gives away might wake up something far worse than the murderer stalking the women of Whitechapel…
Dan Soule delivers another of his Fright Night novels, reviving the vampire mythos with aplomb. If you can’t get enough of dark and gripping suspense with compelling characters set in a gritty world, then you’ll love Savage.
Steve Stred is the author of a number of novels, novellas and collections. He has appeared in anthologies with some of Horror’s heaviest hitters.
He lives in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada with his wife, son and their dog OJ.
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