Alone with no clue as to where he is or who he has become, David Rucker awakes. Memories begin to trickle into his conscious as he slowly comes to the grisly realization that he may be a member of the undead. This is the start of Bryan Smith’s harrowing vampire tale, Bloodrush.
As faithful readers of Dreadful Tales know, we are all avid fans of Bryan Smith. His straight-to-the-point style and descriptive wizardry make him one of the premier names in the genre. Traditionally, Smith’s stories are gritty and violent, with nods to the Laymon and Lee as he explores the darker side of humanity. Needless to say, as soon as we heard that Smith was penning a vampire tale we were a little surprised and thoroughly enthused.
Bryan Smith’s take on the vampire myth starts with a deluge of blood that never stops flowing throughout the novella. The story is nothing more than a man being turned from human to vampire followed by a series of graphic and bloody killings. In all honesty, the story is pretty simple but Smith’s knack for creating well rounded and interesting characters turns Bloodrush into something special. David Rucker is a happy man, involved with a wonderful girl. One day he is approached by a beautiful woman who offers him a very simple choice. David can join her as a vampire, and leave his entire life behind him, or he can walk away and he will not be bothered again. When David chooses the immortal life of vampirism, well, the story really gets the blood flowing. What follows are some of the best scenes of vampire action I have ever read.
Smith knows what his readers want and he gives it to them in abundance. He knows that there is a huge backlash against this, once feared, monster due to the infusion of emotion and teenage politics into the vampires recent incarnations. Instead of combating that in a mocking style, Smith chooses to go balls- to-the-wall with scene after scene of throat mutilation, rape and necrophilia. Nothing is sacred as David embraces his new life as a vampire. He is an unbridled beast that has just been let out of his cage and Smith’s twisted imagination allows him to do things that most of us have never dreamed of. It is just what every jaded vampire fan needs.
David struggles with his guilt as he attempts to reconcile his vampire needs with his dwindling human emotions. The guilt begins to tear him apart until he feeds again and the feelings of despair evaporate as the blood is ingested. It is a very subtle and inventive way to illustrate the ongoing transformation of David Rucker. The infusion of human emotions into the barbarism of the vampire is how Smith is able to create such complex characters that the reader will automatically connect with. This is certainly a testament to Smith’s evolution as a writer.
Smith’s writing is as tight as ever here. He takes this novella and exploits every word for maximum impact. I thought that Smith had really found his voice in Rock & Roll Reform School Zombies and Darkened but Bloodrush shows a writer who has truly developed and honed their personal style and flaunts it with brutal confidence. Reading this story has me extremely excited for the Smith’s future output.
After reading the novella twice now, I have to wonder about the title. It is certainly fitting because of the high that David gets every time fresh blood is consumed, but I have to wonder if there is something more to it. It almost seemed like Smith was trying to single handedly pump the blood back into this slowly dying mythos. This may be his most violent (or at least descriptively violent) tale and I find it interesting considering how the vampire is currently being treated in the YA market. If Smith’s intent was to throw a little blood in the face of Twilight crowd, he certainly did a stellar job.