Weep Not For the Vampire
William A. Veselik
Reviewed by Nickolas Cook
Over the past few decades, the vampire sub-genre has become one of pure character narcissism. The main characters are so self absorbed that it’s almost impossible to feel much for them beyond a few chapters except a weary contempt for their constant whining. Usually by tale’s end, you’d gladly stake the woe-is-me bastards yourself just to shut them the hell up. Now that’s not to say that such a book can’t be well written and engaging. Anne Rice did quite well for almost 30 years with such a ploy.
Along comes William A. Veselik with Weep Not For The Vampire, and he honestly gives it a good try. You can sense his earnestness from the very first page. He’s got the main ingredients one expects from the sub-genre: a world-weary vampire seeking his own end, the mystery of his own creation, etc., etc. What sets his story apart is that the vampire has come back to his home town decades later to finally rest in the grave where he was supposed to have been for all the time he’s been of gallivanting the world, sucking blood, and being a shape shifting hell raiser. Weep Not For The Vampire is, for much of its page count, well written, inventive, with some original POVs of the angst of being a vampire. Veselik gives us some serious emotional problems for his vampire to deal with. The biggest problem is that the author wastes too many words being enamored with his vampire’s powers, and continues to hammer the reader with how great the vampire is vs. we pathetic humans. This is okay the first few times we’re reminded how wonderful are these vampiric powers, but it grows tiresome about a hundred pages in.
A good editor would have pulled back on some of these constant reminders.
As I said, Veselik can write. His structure is sound, he’s light on the metaphors and overuse of adjectives and adverbs, and he generally knows how to tell a tale, but there are too many convenient plot devices towards the end: a map to the villain’s hangout, a gun store out in the middle of nowhere, etc., etc. It’s as if the writer has written himself into a corner and has to give himself an out. Then to top it off, Veselik finally gets us to the ‘exciting conclusion’, which turns out to be rather boring. The final battle is over quickly, and we know almost nothing about the antagonist.
At one point, Veselik even seems to lose track of his villain’s sexual identity. Of course, the reason comes clear in the end, but it’s before the reader’s been let in on the revelation, and it’s confusing as hell. He refers to his villain as ‘him’ for almost a hundred pages, and then slips with a ‘she’ or two towards the end.
Trust me, this is not a spoiler. By then it’s not that big of a deal to the story. In fact, for all the coyness with which Veselik keeps this revelation under wraps, it amounts to squat as far as narrative importance is concerned.
But the worst offense for me comes after pages and pages of his describing how rapidly the vampire can move, how he can leap the tallest building with supernatural ease, and in the denouement, when he’s most pressed for time, the vampire hails a taxi to get him around town. If there was some kind of esoteric reasoning behind this strange incongruity, I did not get it.
Finally, the expositional conversation at the end of the book is amateurishly handled, and it comes off sounding like the end of an episode of Scooby-Doo.
A good editor would have caught these narrative flops and helped steer an okay book to a great book. A good writer must also be his/her worst critic and best editor. The days of editors building a writer are long gone. Veselik needs to learn this skill alongside his writing.
That being said, while Weep Not For The Vampire may have fallen flat towards the end, I can see a talent here waiting to come out, and I would gladly give Veselik’s future works a go.