A vampire novel written by someone named Dandridge immediately brought a smile to my face even if the author is no relation to the Fright Night vampire played by both Chris Sarandon and Colin Farrel. What can I say? I’m a geek.
The Hunger is the story of reluctant vampire Lucinda: a murdered prostitute who has risen from her death as a dark, avenging angel. Lucinda spends her nights stalking drug dealers, rapists, and murderers to quench her thirst. Despite her efforts to disguise her kills, the police and a dedicated FBI agent hunts her, as do agents of the Church. If that wasn’t enough, an ancient vampire called Marcus of Alexander also hunts her for his own purposes. Events take an unexpected turn for Lucinda when one of her intended targets, Miami kingpin George Padillas, teams up with vampire hunter Monsignor John O’Connor to trap Lucinda. It seems that Padillas is dying and likes the idea of living forever.
Honestly, I can’t say that I blame him. In Dandridge’s world, vampires are generally evil and agents of Satan—though there’s no real explanation given for why Lucinda is the only vampire who has chosen not to be evil. However, that aside, unlife seems pretty good in this book. These vampires are possessed of all the usual super abilities: super strength, speed, senses, healing, and even shape-changing. For some reason, the dawn and first few hours of daylight can destroy them, but they can get up after a few hours’ rest and walk about in the daytime just fine, albeit without their normal powers. Still, that’s a bargain that most purely nocturnal vamps would kill for! Furthermore, at the height of their powers in the evening, weapons can’t even harm them. Being an agnostic myself, I think I’d happily choose the life of a vampire in this universe and take my chances.
The action never stops in this brisk, tightly plotted supernatural thriller and it’s good action. The fights are well-described, plausible given the kind of powers involved, and I never found myself wondering what was going on or who was doing what. Dandridge’s style is somewhat plain, but it reads well and carries the reader along easily. He wisely avoids using too many literary flourishes or over-worked similes, which helps give the tale a grounded feeling even when dealing with the most far-fetched of situations.
My main complaint with the novel is the fact that I’ve read and seen a lot of these elements before. Lucinda is a sympathetic heroine, but apart from her mission and back-story, there’s just not much to her. She feels like the love-child of Selene from the Underworld series and Angel the brooding vampire with a soul. Most of the characters are of a similar cut: serviceable, but unremarkable. My favorite character in the book turned out to be George Padillas, ironically, because I could identify with his motivations (as strange as that sounds). He’s not a nice guy, but he’s an interesting guy and I wouldn’t have minded seeing a bit more of him.
Over-all, this novel has some of the flaws one expects in a first or early novel, but considering that Mr. Dandridge has sixteen other novels to his credit now, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of these early flaws are worked out in later novels. Fans of plot-driven paranormal action will find much to enjoy here!
You can check out more of The Hunger on Amazon.com.