By Bentley Little
Rio Verde is a dusty little town in the
Arizona desert that happens to contain a Chinese vampire.
Zebra Books, 541 pp, 1993
That is the premise of The Summoning,
an overly long horror novel that presents a more-than-slight variation
to the vampire theme. This Chinese vampire laughs at crucifixes and
garlic, but is repelled by jade and the willow tree. It can also change
It’s an interesting idea, but Little
doesn’t quite carry it off. Much of the novel is quite boring, actually.
The vampire himself barely makes an appearance, except to a demented
preacher who thinks the creature is Jesus. This preacher then goes about
constructing a church for “Jesus” and acquiring humans for sacrifices.
The core group of characters – a
newspaper editor, police chief, a 21-year-old Chinese lady and her wise
grandmother – are likeable, but Little crams way too many secondary
characters into the plot. For example, he spends ten pages introducing a
character only to kill him off on the eleventh page. What’s the point?
The novel finally gets moving during the
final third, but even then, it doesn’t move much. The end is fairly
mundane and not very exciting. The novel isn’t very scary, either.
But it is well-written, and that’s why
I finished it. I did enjoy Little’s style, and I will probably try at
least one more of his books. I hope they’re better than this one.