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A vampire, weary of his undead existence and haunted by his recent slaying of an innocent child, returns to his rural Virginia hometown planning to find some method of destroying himself.
He unexpectedly discovers a daughter and granddaughter he never knew he had and learns—to his horror—that one of his own kind is now preying on his grandchild.
Before he confronts the rival undead, the vampire manages to make his final peace with the wife he left behind and free them both from a love that has survived both the passage of time and the darkness of the grave.
The Harrow: Original Works of Fantasy and Horror, Vol 10, No 1 (2007)
Review © 2007 Dru Pagliassotti
Disregard the angsty title and gothy-romantic cover: Weep Not for the Vampire is a surprisingly fresh vampire novel that brings a new perspective to this much-overworked genre.
Cullen Roark, a vampire for over fifty years, has returned to his home town of McMullin, Virginia, to die. He's sick of living on the blood of others and horrified by what the blood-frenzy made him do a little over a month ago. Now he's swore off human blood and wants to say one last good-bye before he goes to a hell he feels he richly deserves. It should be easy. Drop in, find some old-timers, discover what happened to his friends and family, and then let go.
But when he meets the daughter he never knew he had and finds out that a vampire has been snacking on his teenaged granddaughter, Cullen Roark suddenly discovers that he's still got some unfinished business in town.
Weep Not for the Vampire is a human story, not a horror story. Cullen Roark has special powers, true, and so does his opponent, the vampire who claims McMullin as its hunting ground. But this is really a novel about a regular guy, an ex-town-bully who loved his mother and wife, who has been away from home for a very long time. With a combination of wistful nostalgia and righteous anger, Cullen Roark sets himself to putting things right before he passes on.
If you enjoy vampire novels but are getting a little tired of the same old thing, pick up Weep Not for the Vampire. The pacing is uneven at first, but by the last page you'll find yourself pleasantly surprised. This little novel is worth the effort.
The Horror Fiction Review #16 (Feb. 2007)
This review by Nick Cato.
WEEP NOT FOR THE VAMPIRE by William A. Veselik (2006 Mundania Press / 183 pp. / tp & e-book)
It’s been a while since I’ve read a vampire novel, and I forgot how much fun they can be when done the right way.
Cullen Roark returns home to the Virginia town where he was turned into a vampire; now displeased with his dark existence, he seeks to commit suicide--until he discovers a daughter and a granddaughter he never knew he had--and that another, more vicious vampire is after his newfound family.
This is author Veselik’s debut novel, and as far as vampire stories go, I can’t see any fan of the The Undead being disappointed. Our protagonist’s ability to make others believe he’s someone else gives the tale a nice little edge (especially when he uses this power to mess with the opposing vamp’s buddy), and there’s some very good, carefully placed humor that doesn’t take away from the effective modern-Goth feel of the story.
Veselik’s love for vampires can be felt on each page of this brief novel, and it should come as no surprise that he’s a life long fan of them. Weep Not for the Vampire is a fun, quick read that will sit well with those looking for an old-school monster mash. My only gripe is the tacky, computer-generated cover art (something Mundania Press seriously needs to reconsider in its future releases). Visit www.mundania.com, to get a trade paperback edition OR a cheaper ebook version).
Great Review from "Necropsy, The Review of Horror Fiction"
Finally, a Vampire Novel That Didn’t Have This Reviewer in Tears
by Tony Fonseca
Veselik, William A. Weep Not for the Vampire. Cinncinnati: Mundania Press, 2006. 183 p.
Anyone who has ever researched Phil Rickman and P. D. Cacek finds out one of the horrifying truths about the publishing world in general, and the horror publishing industry in specific—believe it or not, ageism sometimes rears its ugly head when publishers and their imprints are deciding on whom to take a chance. Apparently, according to some of the demographic research, readers themselves are a good bit to blame. Not only must their heroes (and quite often their monsters, especially when it comes to vampires) be full of youth, but so must their authors.
But then every so often something happens that flies in the face of conventionality and threatens a change. In vampire fiction that something—or someone—may well be a 48 year-old Public Relations Coordinator for a Virginia community college.1 Weep Not for the Vampire (and let me here say a heart-felt THANK YOU to Mundania Press for realizing the absolute gem they found) is the first novel length publication for William A. Veselik (although it's not the first book he has written). And fortunately for vampire fans and horror aficionados alike, it will not be his last. Mundania has already contracted a sequel and a potential trilogy.
Now I have read some very good novels from up-and-coming writers with small or independent presses. Michael Bailey’s Palindrome Hannah, reviewed in the Summer 2005 issue of Necropsy, immediately comes to mind. However, I was taken completely aback with the maturity, creativity, professionalism, thoughtfulness, and absolute brilliance of this Veselik’s rookie novel. Imagine the goal of changing current fictional vampire conventionality by introducing completely new traits, and then imagine doing that—and doing it to perfection—with your first publication.
First, let me just mention some of the new possibilities that Veselik’s vampires add to the current mythology. Cullen Roark, Veslik’s human turned into the undead in his 20s, is a young man with long black hair. That is what he will be for all eternity, and he knows this for a fact because he CAN see his reflection in any glass, including a mirror. However, he can easily create what is termed a sham by simply thinking about an appearance he wishes to project (providing he has seen this person beforehand). So he can impersonate specific individuals when necessary, or he can simply make people at ease by projecting himself in a non-threatening guise. The genius of this is that it allows Veselik to play both sides of the age card: any given scene can star a youthful, attractive vampire, or a more Weylandesque2 vampire. Also, it allows excellent opportunities for comic relief, such as in scenes where the vampire takes the guise of the older, fatter Elvis at a bus stop. And without being given a rather silly ability like flight, Veselik’s vampire is a supernatural specimen both physically and psychologically. He can “run” a mile in a minute (without breathing hard, for, as the narrator reminds us, vampires have no need to breathe), climb buildings in seconds, and sense every single living creature around him due to heightened olfactory, auditory and visual senses.
About the only conventional aspect of Veselik’s vampire is that he, as many undead before him have come to realize, is tired of his supernatural existence. Roark joins the ranks of diverse suicidal vampires that have come before him. But even here Veselik outshines previous authors because of the maturity of the narration. Rather than express the existential angst of a Louis, Roark simply comes across as an individual who is tired of playing the hand that was dealt him. There aren’t any grand passages with epic language; he sees his passing out of existence as being an incident related not with a bang, but a whimper.
The final ingredient Veselik adds into the mix is that of intrigue and surprise. Lest readers forget that vampires were once humans who had at some point been turned, here they are reminded in scenes where Roark visits his mother at a nursing home (she is well on her way to Alzheimer’s, and sees immediately through his sham, recognizing him as her long lost son, although she still thinks the year is 1968), where he meets the daughter he never knew he had (he had been married two months before he was found “dead”), and where he meets and helps save his grandchild from another vampire.
All these elements aside, I have to credit Veselik with successfully traversing the most important two hurdles that ultimately define whether a novel is both of a high quality and potentially successful or marketable—producing an enjoyable story (plot line) with characters that readers can actually relate to and care about. Veselik’s vampire is the most human (and humane) vampire seen since Suzy McKee Charnas’s The Vampire Tapestry. Although Roark kills, and rather indiscriminately when he is taken by what he calls the thirst, his reaction is not melodramatic or philosophical. Perhaps readers are saved from this by the fact that we meet the vampire well after he has made his decision to return to the place of his birth in order to end his existence. The well-worn descriptor that often plagues Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, that the novel is “one big pity party,” in no way applies here.
Indeed, readers may weep not for this vampire, but they will not finish this novel without feeling both moved for the title character and happy for the struggling author who finally broke through.
1Mundania’s “About the Author” section is a full two pages long, containing much more than the typical birth date and bibliography of the author, and I say more power to the editors there. Not only is the author information an interesting read, but readers get to feel like they are actually meeting a human being who happens to write books, rather than an author-bot. More publishers ought to emulate this format.
2See Suzy McKee Charnas’s classic, The Vampire Tapestry.
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