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.