‘Eight Against The Darkness’ Book Review By Ron Fortier

Eight Against The Darkness Book Review By Ron Fortier

EIGHT AGAINST THE DARKNESS
By Mark Allen Vann
Xepico Press
147 pgs

The real pleasure of writing this blog is discovering talented New Pulp writers like Mark Allen Vann. This, his first book, is a collection of eight stories all debuting a new pulp hero created from the familiar tropes of the classics from the 30s and 40s. In these pages the reader will find a Warrior Prince, Victorian Agent, Mentalist, Adventurer, Witch Hunter, Sky Pirate, Masked Vigilante and of course an Occult Detective.

Vann, in his insightful afterwards to the collections, makes no apologies for using those tried and true hero molds as he was raised on the super-charged tales of Robert E. Howard, H. P. Lovecraft, Johnston McCauley and Walter Gibson, among so many others. Rather, he is wise enough to put his own personal twist to each character and very effectively makes them new and fresh. No small achievement, believe us. We’ve seen lots of other young writers attempt such only to fail miserable with their copycat inventions.

Corr maybe related to Conan, but except for swinging a mean sword and being one hell of a bruiser, that’s where the similarities part ways. Alistair Synne may have gone to school with Solomon Kane, but he clearly graduated with his own peculiar skills, including to flintlock pistols that fire bits of his soul every time he shoots them. Then there is the beautiful steampunk sky pirate, Red d Havick, captain of the Scarlet Mistress adventuring on a world where massive islands float.

We would be hard pressed to name a favorite among the eight action packed tales in this collection. What we will say is, all of Vann’s heroes totally deserve lots more stories; each is that much fun and exciting to follow. This is one of the most audacious new pulp debuts in a long time and if Vann is thinking of a sequel, we’d really like to see his take on a western. Bottom line Mark Allen Vann is a name you will soon be hearing a whole lot more and that, dear readers, is a wonderful thing. Count on it.

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