Book: David Wellington’s ’13 Bullets’ – “when you run over a hippy with this thing, extra chunky is about all that’s left.”

I prefer urban fantasy style stuff to horror but I am willing to try most things.

Which is why I tried ’13 Bullets: A Vampire Tale’ (sometimes called ‘Thirteen Bullets’) despite knowing it was going to be a bit icky. By a bit icky I mean during daylight hours vampires turn into slush – their flesh melts, maggots wriggle in their remains and they only become whole again at night. This is described in loving detail and probably would have turned my stomach if I hadn’t just been utterly gross out by the first episode of ‘Criminal Minds’ season nine so the point where nothing else was going to phase me for the evening.

13 bullets

(Book cover art)

The plot reminds me of something that would come out of vintage Stephen King, the action takes place in modern day Pennsylvania  where people know that vampires exist but think they are extinct (or at least really rare). Special Deputy Arkeley killed the last one in the 1980s… except he didn’t, she was locked in a sanatorium and is protected by Federal Law (as long as she doesn’t hurt people).

Then State Trooper Laura Caxton encounters vampires running wild and ends up assisting Arkeley in hunting down the monsters. Laura is also a lesbian and the book mentions this a fair bit – with little to no tact. I can’t recall the last horror/urban fantasy/whatever book with the lesbian character, as oppose to a bisexual female, so that was neat and different.

It was also nice having good old fashion evil vampires and these vampires are ugly on the outside in addition to the inside!

Wellington has made some interesting enhancements to vampire mythology, to make someone a vampire the person has to accept the invitation to be undead and then commit suicide. The invitation doesn’t have to be verbal, it can be as simple as meeting a vampire’s eye and them ‘speaking’ in your head.

Nonso Anozie as renfield

(Nonso Anozie as Renfield in the current TV version of ‘Dracula’)

Renfields are also present in the book – because no evil vampire worth their salt would do their own dirty work.

There was some gore and a reasonably high body count for rural Pennsylvania. The gore got a little dull as there are only so many ways to describe a face or arm being ripped off. The last third of the book also seemed somewhat slow, I understand that the protagonist needs to be put in peril in order to develop but the book was more interesting when everyone was running around and the master-plan wasn’t being out at the forefront of the book.

It was an ok ending overall and the last scene was very good. However I am not in a rush to pick up the four other books in the series as I suspect Laura will end up being a lesbian version of Sarah Connor in ‘Terminator 2’, her mission will be to escape the vampire fate and possibly save the world.

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