Title: Already Dead
Author: Charlie Huston
Published by: Orbit
Publication date: 1 Feb. 2007
Genre: Science Fiction/Urban Fantasy
Source: Personal Collection
Those stories you hear? The ones about things that only come out at night? Things that feed on blood, feed on us? Got news for you: they’re true. Only it’s not like the movies or old man Stoker’s storybook. It’s worse. Especially if you happen to be one of them. Justask Joe Pitt.
There’s a shambler on the loose. Some fool who got himself infected with a flesh-eating bacteria is lurching around, trying to munch on folks’ brains. Joe hates shamblers, but he’s still the one who has to deal with them. That’s just the kind of life he has. Except afterlife might be better word.
From the Battery to the Bronx, and from river to river, Manhattan is crawling with Vampyres. Joe is one of them, and he’s not happy about it. Yeah, he gets to be stronger and faster than you, and he’s tough as nails and hard to kill. But spending his nights trying to score a pint of blood to feed the Vyrus that’s eating at him isn’t his idea of a good time. And Joe doesn’t make it any easier on himself. Going his own way, refusing to ally with the Clans that run the undead underside of Manhattan-it ain’t easy. It’s worse once he gets mixed up with the Coalition-the city’s most powerful Clan-and finds himself searching for a poor little rich girl who’s gone missing in Alphabet City.
Now the Coalition and the girl’s high-society parents are breathing down his neck, anarchist Vampyres are pushing him around, and a crazy Vampyre cult is stalking him. No time to complain, though. Got to find that girl and kill that shambler before the whip comes down . . . and before the sun comes up.
Already Dead isn’t your run of the mill Vampire story; there’s no lace trim on Victoria era vestments, there’s no sweet seduction of young women thirsty for their first touch of romance from a mysterious, exotic stranger and there’s no french accents either. Just the grit of nightly life in Manhatten with added bite! We follow the story of Joe Pitt, a vampire trying to survive on only the Vyrus of his making, but the complicated politics that go on behind the scenes in Vampire life in the big city.
The first book in a series of five – you’d expect it to ease you in gently and set the scene. No such luck. Joe Pitt is already up to his earlobes in trouble as a group of shamblers (zombies) have turned up to make a huge mess of the supernatural world. Throw into the mix the missing 14 year old daughter of some very rich (but completely messed up) parents and the attention the whole fiasco is getting from the ‘higher up’s’ from different sections of Vampyre politics. This book throws you in right at the deep end of the pool with Joe Pitt as your unwitting host. Joe himself as a character fits firmly into the picture as the ‘loveable rogue’ even if he does push the term ‘loveable’ right to the boundaries – he is a cocky sort of chap, with a flair for doing exactly what he wants, when he wants too; yet somehow I found myself still rooting for him and because of his general attitude, it was fun to see him fail every now and again. I mean, what’s better than seeing a cocky-shit head being brought down to earth a few times?
The supporting characters are just as wonderful and seeing their different opinions and political stand points coming out in the book are what help elevate this book to that elusive ‘next level’ that so many other novels seem to miss out on. The world building has been so well done it’s believable – I mean, why can’t there be an underground network of Vampyres trying to survive in New York? And why can’t these Vampyres touch on political issues that we mere mortals can’t seem to resolve? Equal rights for Shamblers/Zombies (Or as they’re called by some in the book ‘Victims of Zombification’) and it’s how these supporting characters, and their politics, have an impact (or not) on the main character that make Joe that little bit more interesting – especially Daniel and his clan called the Enclave; which really gripped me as a story arc.
I admit, I love this book and I have read the entire series more than once, but that doesn’t make them perfect. I mean, the writing style, if you’re looking for everything to be grammatically correct then please, just move on, because you’re going want to burn the book within an inch of its existence and no one wants to deal with the amount of rage it would cause. I especially point out speak-craft and chapters (Or lack there-of)
But, if you can get passed the fact that Charlie Huston has taken the ‘guide to book writing’ and torn it asunder, than you’re in for a compulsive read – a page turner that keeps you on your toes. You don’t get any breaks with this book; mostly due to the fact that you’re waiting for a chapter end to give you one, but whoops, there aren’t any, chapters that is. The whole story is slammed right into your face with no let up; which in this case is wonderful because the story is captivating and the reader really does want to know what happens next – and maybe get some more delight in the main character getting his face pummeled in. Again.