Dirt Cheap Ebook: American Gothic by Michael Romkey


Welcome to another installment of Dirt Cheap Ebooks: a regular feature in which Unbound Worlds highlights a great book available at a low price. Today’s selection is American Gothic by Michael Romkey, which is currently on sale in most popular ebook formats for $4.99. Purchase it from us or your favorite e-retailer.

Michael Romkey’s an author of popular vampire fiction, much of which comes in the form of confessionals from these much-feared creatures of the night. His first novel, I, Vampire, earned a lot of comparisons to Anne Rice’s Interview with the Vampire, and not all of them were fair.

Romkey’s book, like Rice’s, was a first-person narrative tale of a vampire’s journey into undeath: a fact that for some readers was enough to shelf this talented horror author as an also-ran, or worse, a knock-off. This mischaracterization is flimsy at best. There were other monster confessionals prior to the 1976 publication of Interview with the Vampire. Fred Saberhagen’s The Dracula Tapes beat Rice’s novel to publication by one year. However, the genre, or at least its foundation, go back centuries.

In 1667, John Milton’s Paradise Lost offered readers Satan’s own take on the Fall, and in doing so garnered the devil more than a little sympathy. Over a century later, Paradise Lost provided at least a little bit of inspiration for Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, another first-person tale of an outcast fiend. Like Milton’s Satan, Shelley’s Creature is philosophical, articulate, and while innately evil, is not wholly unworthy of our pity. Further, the Creature, like Satan, has a difficult relationship with his maker. These troubled monsters have more than a little in common with Rice’s angst-ridden super predators.

Still, no one would suggest that Interview with the Vampire is a knock-off of Frankenstein, any more than they would that Frankenstein is a pale shadow of Paradise Lost. What could be argued is that each laid the groundwork for the next, and each might not have been possible without its predecessor. Certainly, Romkey’s vampire fiction would not have likely existed without Rice’s — at least in its current format — but that, as we’ve seen, is no reason to dismiss it.

Romkey’s vampire stories are quite different from Rice’s. There’s a great deal more action, for one, and historical conspiracies pop up pretty often. There’s also a fair amount of weird science — that’s certainly the case in American Gothic. That said, if you’re a fan of Rice’s work, then you’ll probably enjoy Romkey’s. At $4.99, it’s certainly worth the gamble.

  • The cover of the book American Gothic

    American Gothic

    Through the endless waltz of time, a man becomes a monster and a monster reclaims his humanity by saving one human soul. . . .

    Even the opium pipe and its dark dreams isn’t enough to erase the memories that haunt Nathaniel Peregrine. His home destroyed, his wife and children butchered, his world shattered by civil war—he can find no reason to protect his soul from the intoxicating evil that pursues him. Willingly he bends his neck for the beautiful demon who will take away his pain and replace it with an otherworldly power too great and terrible to imagine.

    Years later, growing tired of living a vampire’s restless existence, Peregrine travels to the wild island of Haiti, where shadow blends easily into the exotic flora and fauna. There he meets Helen Fairweather, a woman who makes him yearn for a mortal life as he has not done for ages. The longing leads him to Dr. Lavalle, a man who may be able to give him back his soul. Once a foremost authority on diseases of the blood, the good doctor sets Peregrine on a steep descent that will end with salvation—or damnation. . . .