Knuckle Supper, by Drew Stepek
Before climbing on top of this mechanical bull of a book, I’d like to say that I have a deep appreciation for reality; which is why I am of two separate minds about the book and the attitude with which is was written (at least partially). On one side of the coin, vampires are fictitious creatures; to argue about the ‘right’ or ‘correct’ way for them to behave, is unrealistic. On the other side of the coin, if I had to actually support the Stephenie Meyer idea of vampire, then I’d have to say that vampires are misunderstood creatures, who have been misrepresented by folklore for hundreds of years. And that would be unrealistic as well.
I read an interview in which Drew Stepek talked about his philosophy on the old vampire + young girl, and couldn’t help but applaud his attitude. I wrote an article some time ago here, Vampires and Pedophilia, and discussed the idea that in some ways, the archetypal vampire romance might be saying a lot more about our repressed sexuality than we’re willing to admit to ourselves. Would you want a 100 year old dude flirting with your teenager? I’m really over-simplifying here, but there are definitely aspects of vampire + human romance that can be found extremely disturbing when analyzed a little more. Frankly, it’s a bit refreshing to find that someone else notices it.
So that said, while the true nature of vampires is up in the air, the violent approach is more entertaining, and more acceptable to the older crowds who want a little more from their horror fiction.
Knuckle Supper describes the incredibly violent lives of The Knucklers, –a group of vampires who get their kicks from using human hookahs, drinking the blood of drug-addicted sub-humans, and generally just killing people with the desperate imagination that only a real junkie can display. They run the drug trade in their own section of LA. The need to impress, mixed with real malicious emotion, a dash of suicidal guilt, and two boiling cups of craving; that’s the recipe for sadistic, –and if you can imagine what culinary delights can be created by gangs and addicts in reality, today, then try to wrap your mind around what a gang of vampires would cook up. Now, you have a better picture of the violence in this book.
Despite the various superhuman powers, and abilities that are attributed to vampires, the undead malefactors in this book are more human than any of the Cullens. They are the same failures that walk the streets today, drug-addled and desperate, suicidal, mean, drunk, pedophilic, confused, ashamed, lost. The difference is, these failures were pushed further, and granted the denial that comes with being a vampire. And the cherry on top is Bait, the pubescent 12 year old prostitute that lives with them. She’s deluded, sassy, and flip about her circumstances, but obsessed with vampires. She’s taken in by RJ, the minor leader, and vampire heroin-addict in the clan of vampires called ‘The Knucklers’.
The novel covers religious fanaticism, abortion, child prostitution, gang violence, drug addiction, and then wraps it in a loving layer of chocolate by letting vampires take responsibility for these things. And when you’ve finished the book, you’ll end up feeling guilty, because the pen is a pistol, and it sure as hell wasn’t aimed at vampires. Drew Stepek attacked our own screwed up social system in train-wreck fashion; we can’t look away, it’s so damned horrific. The Children of the Night, an organization dedicated to saving children from child prostitution, receives 10% of the money made on the book, so buy a copy. Don’t borrow, or download, buy the frigging book.
If you want to read Drew Stepek’s horror, and the vampire horror brought to you by other writers, in the palm of your hand, without dragging a huge bag filled with heavy ass books around with you, –like a monk from medieval times or something, we have Kindles for you. Yes we do! We’re giving away one per month. You can find out more about the Kindle contest here!