Books: Dark Corner by Brandon Massey

I chose Brandon Massey’s Dark Corner completely at random out of my Kindle Unlimited recommendations, and as usual, I didn’t read the description of the book; I just dived right in. The book is actually older than I thought it was when I first started reading it, having come out in 2005. Now, I will admit to some disappointment when I realized it was a vampire novel; it’s not the book’s fault, but I’m not hugely into vampire stories because I feel like I’ve already read all the good books and seen all the good movies about them, and I find vampires kind of a tired monster overall. I feel the same way about zombies, incidentally; though I wouldn’t immediately not read or watch something that was about vampires or zombies, it would definitely lessen my enthusiasm.

That said, I found Dark Corner to be pretty entertaining, though the story is not all that original. If you want a concise description of it, it’s essentially ‘Salem’s Lot filtered through Blacula. I happen to love both of those stories, so the homages didn’t really bother me; in fact, I was pretty amused by the fact that one of the minor characters in the novel is named Mamuwalde, which is Blacula’s real name in the movies.

Our main protagonist is a man named David Hunter from Atlanta. His father Richard was rather famous in literary circles, though David never really knew him all that well, his father having left the family when David was quite young. David has always felt as though something was missing from his life because he never got to know his father.

So when he gets the news that his father has apparently died in a boating accident, David decides to go back to his tiny hometown of Mason’s Corner, Mississippi, to stay in his dad’s old house and talk to people who knew him. He isn’t planning to stay forever, just for a year or something until he gets a handle on the man his father was.

Mason’s Corner earned the (at first) derogatory nickname Dark Corner because its population is ninety percent black. The man the town is named after, though, was a brutal plantation owner who was killed in a slave uprising. His plantation house, Jubilee, still looms over the town, though it’s been abandoned for many years. The residents have since taken on the name Dark Corner as something of a badge of pride.

When David Hunter arrives back in Dark Corner, Mississippi, he immediately meets his lovely and somewhat elderly neighbors, one of whom is a professor and is able to fill David in on all sorts of stuff about the history of the town, including David’s connection with the slave uprising via a direct ancestor. I will note that as much as I loved the professor character, his dialogue seemed a tad unrealistic to me; it read like someone’s perception of what a professor would sound like rather than what a professor would actually sound like. That might be just me, though. David also meets a young woman named Nia, and they begin a sweet romance.

While all of this is going on, there’s also a parallel story happening with the vampires. In this universe, you see, vampires exist, but they no longer feed on humans for sustenance, and pride themselves on having left their savage past behind. They keep on the down low, existing alongside humans but staying in the shadows, with most humans being none the wiser. They still drink blood, but they source it from other means.

Kyle is a vampire with other ideas, though. His mother, an ancient vampire named Lisha, raised him to be refined and non-murdery, but Kyle longs for a past in which vampires fed on humans with wanton abandon. To fulfill his desires, he decides he’s going to go back to Mason’s Corner and attempt to resurrect his father, a powerful vampire named Diallo, who was actually one of the main instigators of the slave uprising so many years ago. Back then, he was eventually defeated and placed into a kind of stasis underneath Jubilee, but Kyle believes he can wake him up, and together he and his father will become the most powerful beings on Earth.

From then on, it’s basically a race against time, as once Diallo wakes up, he and his son begin making a vampire army out of the residents of this small Mississippi town. David, Nia, and all the other good guys have to band together to fight against the growing vampire horde and save their little town.

Despite my ambivalence about vampires as a monster, I had a pretty good time with this one; it was longish (about 550 pages), but was really well-paced, with lots of action, and the fact that the story jumped back and forth between several characters kept the story interesting. It wasn’t the most original premise, but hey, there’s not much that hasn’t been done in the horror genre, and I feel like this book was fun enough that it didn’t need to reinvent the stake and hammer, you know? Some of the characters’ dialogue read as a bit unrealistic to me, but the protagonists themselves were all pretty likeable, and you actually cared when something bad happened to them. If you’re into vampire stories, check this one out; I think you’ll dig it.

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