After his wife Deena was attacked by a vampire, Pastor Isaiah Tiller sets his old life aside to become a hunter of the very thing which took his wife from him. Isaiah threw himself into his physical, mental, and spiritual training and then when he was ready, Isaiah slowly began his exploration into the dark underworld which destroyed his life. Soon, his investigation would bring him face to face with his own failure from the past which had haunted him for years: his deceased wife and the vampire which turned her.
The Guru's Review:
I chose this book to buy for one reason only. I was intrigued with the concept of a pastor being a vampire hunter! I considered this would be a fun read. It definitely fits into the edgy, Christian, speculative fiction genre.
Looking at this author's background I am not surprised that this short (71 pages) turned out to be a fast paced, action packed, pocket rocket! I love it when an author successfully packs a lot into such a short word/page limit. The other factor that makes this such a successful short is the background of the author. In his own words,
15 year animation veteran from the Walt Disney Animation Studio in Orlando, FL. I worked on most of the animated movies from The Little Mermaid, the Lion King, to Brother Bear doing various jobs as: Cel Painter, Traditional Film Camera, and Final Check.
During my time in the field of animation, I spent many hours learning exactly how Disney went about telling a story. I was able to watch film stories grow and refine as the process of completing the film went along. Soon I started writing and developing my own ideas and stories and Isaiah Tiller is one of the many ideas to come out of my time at Disney.
Simmons has a unique background to write this series and it definitely shows in this short. What also intrigued me about this series, is his development of the vampires and his world building as described by Tom Bancroft in the foreword,
Somehow, Andrew had created a world where you could have a cool, tough, and spirit-filled hero who knows something that most in this world do not-that demons are real and they can take many forms. They can even take the forms of myths and legends so it is possible that - in this world at least-werewolves and vampires exist. And not the wimpy, gorgeous male vampires that read poetry and romance women more than they suck blood - these are horrible, death-bringing monsters. And forget all the wooden stakes and silver bullets - it's really about your faith in an all -powerful God that will defeat those horrors! What? That's right; Andrew Simmons has found a fresh and new angle to tell stories with vampires and werewolves that no one has been brave enough - or sincere enough - to try.
Too bad this is in the foreword, if this was part of the blurb, then this would have been enough for me to buy this short. Simmons has created a story that grabs you and does not let go until the end. It reads like a movie and I am not surprised seeing the background Simmons has come from as described previously.
I love the structure of the bounty hunter world. Isaiah Tiller is a Pastor who seeks to destroy the vampire that turned his wife. He belongs to a group of fellow bounty hunters, all Christians, who report to another Pastor who co-ordinates their activities and sets their assignments in breaking up this mafia type vampire empire. Within this empire there are two ruling families, the Jahai and the Valcarda and it is the Jahai family who want to expand their empire and I guess, in doing so dominate the Valcarda family.
Within this world building, Simmons has given a brief outline of vampire folklore. There is the status level a vampire has to attain first before turning a human into a vampire, or else the turned will be a lesser type of vampire, there is the rogue status of vampire and finally how to kill a vampire. There seems to be two methods of doing this, one purely by physical means (and not the wooden cross or silver bullet either), the other by spiritual. Of course, Tiller employs the spiritual means by way of using the heightened senses that the Spirit gives him to detect their presence, the Word of God, prayer and the use of "holy" water consecrated by God. He also uses various weapons and combat warfare in fighting them. Simmons adds a further spiritual aspect, through Isaiah, in the redemption of vampires, as he says to his turned/vampire wife,
......everyone deserves a chance at redemption, even a vampire
This possibility of redemption seems to be a common theme in vampire fiction written by Christian authors. This same theme runs through Ben Wolf's Blood for Blood, Vicki Lucas' Devil's Pathway (DAWN: Warriors of Valor Book 1) and Vikki Kessler's The Christian and the Vampire: A Short Story.
I like what Simmons has to say about the whole story of Isaiah Tiller and him being a vampire hunter:
The concept for Isaiah Tiller started when I was gaming some Call of Cthulhu with a local group I used to play with years ago. I wanted to play a character which stood up for what I believed in, even if it was just a game world. Well, I created an ex-pastor that went around destroying evil. The game character ended up dying in one session, but I enjoyed the idea so much I resurrected the character in one of my first short stories. I have spent the last fifteen plus years refining the idea. If I was to describe the essence of Isaiah and what one can expect when reading his adventures, it would be this: one part faith, one part action, and one part classics monsters with a modern twist.
Simmons definitely portrays Isaiah as someone who stands up for what he believes in. You can see that it is this conviction plus his faith in God and obedience to Him that provides his motivation to be vampire hunter. At first I thought that he was mainly motivated by revenge for his wife being turned, but at one stage where his attempt at killing Gray fails, he repents for fighting in his own strength and asks His help to rely on God instead. Important lesson in spiritual warfare.
This is one well crafted and very unique concept. I like what I have read here and I am now a devotee to this series. I am glad Book 2 is released as I can now get into this. Book 3 will be released in a few months time.