Mick Farren,
The Time of Feasting
(Tor, 1996)

A colony of nosferatu -- vampires -- has taken up residence in New York City. Led by Victor Renquist, they subsist on blood bags obtained from a hospital, hunting only rarely and then with great circumspection. But the refrigerated blood bag is no substitute for the warm kill and sooner or later, they must feed normally. When the pressure becomes too great, they will have entered the Feasting, the time when they must hunt humans and their leavings will become difficult to disguise.

Along with the Feasting comes a kind of madness, and Renquist will be hard-pressed to maintain his control of the colony, especially with young Kurt Carfax, nosferatu for only a few years, attempting to supplant him as master. As if that weren't enough, Renquist is being stalked by a defrocked priest who believes him to be the Devil and a pair of detectives who see him as the prime suspect in a murder investigation. And then the local voodoo cult issues an ultimatum: either Renquist and the colony take measures to control the depredations of Carfax or be destroyed.

The Time of Feasting is not quite horror; rather, it is a novel of dark fantasy. Some of the elements are certainly horrific, but it does not continuously bludgeon the reader over the head with gore splattered on the walls.

If this novel has one strength, it is in its characterization, especially of the nosferatu. They are not drawn as evil in themselves; they simply are what they are, in the same manner as a wolf is a wolf and nothing more or less.

The book does have its silly points. Farren goes perhaps slightly overboard in contending that nosferatu, rather than being supernatural creatures, were created by extraterrestrials, those same beings that built the Great Pyramid and the Nazca lines. However, while being silly in retrospect, during the reading of the book, the background information on the nosferatu is presented in such a way that it makes sense within the story's context.

Overall The Time of Feasting is an enjoyable book, the sort of novel that draws you back into it even when you've put it down to go off and do something else.

[ by Laurie Thayer ]

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