Carpathia by Matt Forbeck

I’d like to say that this is an unbiased review, but I can’t. I’m an unabashed Forbeck fan. I have been for years. The Bloodbowl novels may not have been considered brilliant by a lot of people remain some of my favourite books.

This is a vampire story. Set on the titanic and the ship that rescued some of the survivors. Like that great book by Kim Newman this story takes the Bram Stoker story and says ‘What if?’ The Dracula links are slowly fed through until you can’t ignore them, but most readers will get them pretty early on. This is quite rewarding and I felt I’d stumbled on to a secret. A lot of people die in this story, not nearly as many by drowning as I’d imagined when I started the book. In fact, as I’d not read the sleeve notes before starting the book I wasn’t even aware it was a vampire book. I just thought it was an alternate history Titanic story. I was pleasantly surprised.

I had to get my dictionary out at one point. The difference between foundering and floundering was something I was unfamiliar with. In short, ships founder and people flounder. The language and feel of the book had me feeling that I was actually in the early 20th century and the feeling of impending doom only helped to build tension. As usual Matt nailed the pace and I was dragged along at a frenetic pace. I stayed up until gone midnight to finish this book because I was so caught up in the story.

James Herbert would be proud of the attrition rate in this book. At the end there are very few people alive. I liked the ending. Although not usually a fan of any kind of happy or neat and tidy ending in this instance I think it worked nicely. It felt like a film ending where it just cuts straight to ‘THE END’ and Fades to Black (caps because I’m a Metallica fan at heart).

I feel that this could well be Matt’s best work to date, and it certainly has the chance to capture the imagination of a wide audience. It is easy to read, has violence and bloodshed that is vital to the story and not just to shock, and most importantly in my eyes it is a very hard book to put down. I loved it start to finish.

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