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Deathbringer - Bryan Smith Horror Book Review
Horror books Review
This review may contain spoilers. Get over it. Hannah Starke is a happy woman, she is about to be married and her life is going well. Then she is murdered and her life goes on a definite downturn.
Little does she or her grieving relations realize that her death is just the opening shot of a war started by the angry and disillusioned Nikolai, a Deathbringer, or Grim Reaper, who has found the forbidden Invocations of the Reaper which tells of how to destroy God by destroying the world. It all has to start somewhere, so Nikolai has it all start with Hannah, a bright, happy, generous and sunny soul, just the type of person that the hate-filled Nikolai would want to destroy.
The world of Dandridge quickly goes to hell soon after, the dead rise, and they’re ticked-off and hungry; a spree is on the killer loose; a supernatural being is egging is all on; and a secret sect steps in with it’s own avenger out to remedy this situation.
Smith’s first novel, “House of Blood” was a solid first effort, with a well-realized microcosm, although with too many interesting characters wasted, too much filler, and too many unrealized plot lines. With “Deathbringer,” Smith has developed significantly as a writer, keeping the filler and wasted characters down, fleshing out his characters more, and keeping his extreme Grand Gingoul much more tightly focused, with everything happening in one night. Unlike “House Of Blood,” here Smith doesn’t waste his more interesting characters, and he keeps them down to a more fully developed half-dozen, the most interesting being Mike O’Bannon, a cop who was to marry Hannah, and is crushed by her death; Hannah, who goes from loving to bloodthirsty, and who is a stronger and more special undead; Nikolai, the arrogant Deathbringer, whose best laid plans may not be as perfect as he thinks they are; and Melinda Preston, an out-of-control goth girl with anger, control, and attitude problems.
It’s Melinda that almost sinks the novel at times, yes, she’s a living parallel to the now undead Hannah, but her cartoonish bloodletting just becomes unbelievable. She starts killing her own allies even when the zombies are on the attack.
On the other hand, Smith has a nice take on his zombies, they are the resurrected, but they are also re-living, breathing, and thinking killing machines, they aren’t invulnerable, they’re just unkillable. Smith wisely doesn’t put the characters in a situation where the world has already ended, but in a situation where they might effect the world’s future. He has several real twists in the plot’s ending, including one regarding Melinda, showing her character is a different light, pay attention or you’ll miss it. This is a bloody, vivid, nasty, fast-paced, hard-core drive-in zombie novel, filled with easy-to-identify-with characters. “Deathbringer” certainly won’t win any awards, or gather any respect from “quiet” horror fans, but it’s entertaining as all get out, and will certainly please all extreme horror-action fans.
Smith seems to be already developing his own universe, as the events in this novel are referenced in his next novel “The Freakshow”. This review originally appeared in Cemetery Dance #59. Thanx Bob.