You could say that this book is an adventure story, following the tried and true ‘unsuspecting, ordinary person gets invited to be an adventurer, goes for it, becomes a badass’ plot. You could say that this is a book about vampires and vampire hunters. But really, this is an awakening story, one about an ordinary man who is shaken out of his stagnant life into motion and, ultimately, to a kind of enlightenment. This is not only a valuable theme, it’s a theme particularly relevant to our time: when technology has placed everything just a click away, what could possibly be more important than relearning to appreciate the “feast” that is life? It just so happens that the vehicle that brings the protagonist, Merton Daniels, to his enlightenment is the existence of vampires.
My favorite part about this book is the dark, deadpan humor that exists throughout it. Merton and his best-friend-turned-sidekick, Coaler, are in sharp contrast to each other, and their interactions create a dynamic that brings in the sort of absurd situations everyday life has to offer. Because of this, the world of Reclaiming the Dead is convincing – maybe uncomfortably so. The humor which arises because of this absurdity also prompted me to begin thinking of it in terms of film – if Reclaiming the Dead ever hit the silver screen it could be Shawn of the Dead’s wittier, indie cousin.
Another intriguing part of this novel is how it handles the myth of the vampire. While I can’t think of a concrete example of this theory being put forth in vampire literature or film, the concept of Judas Iscariot being the first vampire is a familiar notion. However, wedding this concept to, in some instances, the blood-sack baseness of folkloric vampires, the powers of Dracula, and the ability to retain fragments of his human consciousness create a very new spin. Perhaps because the story is primarily about enlightenment and awakening to the world, this book takes the myth of the vampire and makes it less about monsters and more about philosophy, about the nature of life and the universe.
In short, this little book is more than it seems, and it’s worth a read. Go and send James Brotherton some love at his website, jamesbrotherton.com. Reclaiming the Dead is available at Amazon.com.