Here is a secret: I like vampires still and Christopher Buehlman has written one of the best vampire books I’ve ever read.
4/5 20/25 Possible Score – Audiobook Review
Plot – 4(Fine)
Characters – 4(Strong)
Setting/World Building – 5(Very Strong)
Writing Style/Narration – 4(Strong)
Heart & Mind Aspect – 3(Fine)
The Lesser Dead by Christopher Buehlman is a vampire tale that brings vampires back to classic form. In 1978 New York, a vampire named Joey Peacock is enjoying his life as a vampire, and he is telling us his story. Turned when he was just 14 years old, back in the 30’s, he lives with a group of vampires together in the abandon areas of the New York subway. Joey enjoys going out to discotheques and punk clubs, to charm women with his special vampire charming to feed. Joey even has a family that he visits every week to feed on and watch soaps with. Joey Peacock is an incredibly sarcastic, insolent, but hilarious vampire that is just likable. His vampire group leader is Margaret, a tough as nails Irish vampire, that actually turned Joey. Things are going as usual, sleep during the day, feed at night, make sure no one finds out about them, when a mysterious group of extremely young vampires are seen. It is looked down upon to turn children into vampires and these children are deadly. Where Joey’s group doesn’t kill people when they feed, these kid vampires are brutal. Not only do the children vampires kill people, they are incredibly creepy, and their origins are shrouded in mystery.
I was in the mood for a horror book and someone suggested The Lesser Dead by Buehlman. I decided to listen to the audiobook so that I could experience the tension in the scenes more. The first thing I notice about the audiobook is that the author is narrating it. I love when authors narrate their own work because what they have in their minds eye comes out more clearly in their performance than paid narrators. Sometimes the author narrating just doesn’t work out but Buehlman does fantastic. Each character is alive, real, and distinctive. Every character has their own speech pattern and accent.
This is a first person story told from the point of view of Joey Peacock. Buehlman has written an incredibly sarcastic and insolent character with Joey Peacock. His opinions on things are not politically correct but he is absolutely hilarious. If you enjoy main characters like Dr. House or Sherlock(BBC) that are just jerks at times, you’ll like Peacock. If you don’t like Peacock’s personality than this book probably will not work for you. I would suggest you read samples and listen to audiobook samples so that Peacock’s personality is shown to you. I personally found him to be hilarious and this is the most I laughed from an audiobook.
The story that Buehlman has crafted is just so spot on and original. He gives us so much background and characterization for us to know our main character really well and how he feels about all the other characters too. By the time we are introduced to the main storyline, we already know Joey Peacock really well. The book is written and narrated beautifully. So much of the book seems to mimic Peacock’s character that you forget sometimes that this isn’t a real person telling you his story. You definitely forget that this is the author telling you a story. The story is just really well crafted and executed.
The highlight of this book is the setting and world building that Buehlman has created. The pop culture references and research to make this book feel like the 1970’s is phenomenal. New York in the late 70’s was really grimy and dirty. You can almost feel the dirt and sleaziness while Peacock walks you into a punk club. The mythos and vampire backstory that Buehlman has created is one of the best that I’ve read. It is just as strong as Anne Rice’s books, Buffy mythos, or any other popular culture vampire media. It is just amazing to read about vampires, being vampires, and not falling in love with humans. This is a mature book about real vampires.
I highly recommend this horror book to anyone looking to try to get back into horror. It is a hilarious read with a lot of creepy moments. Those vampire kids will be giving me nightmares for awhile. The audiobook was just fantastic. I absolutely loved the characters and found the setting to be top notch. Beuhlman has the ability to be one of the best horror writers of this new generation of horror writers and I will definitely be checking out more of his work. Beuhlman’s kind of horror reminds me a lot of Scalzi’s kind of sci-fi. Check this book out.