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This is bestselling author John Steakley's vampire classic: Vampires infest the modern world and a group of brave people-professional vampire killers-devote their lives to hunting them down.

The cult classic is back for fans who like their vampire hunters hard-boiled.

You don't just kill vampires for the money, you do it for the satisfaction. You do it because somebody has to. You do it no matter what it does to you. And you drink'a lot. Some jobs just suck. This one bites.

But nobody does it better than Jack Crow, the leader of VAMPIRE$ Inc. His crack team of hunters takes down the blood suckers with a lethal combination of cojones and crossbows.

After members of Jack's team are ambushed and slaughtered; however, the survivors need to rethink their strategy. With a new recruit from the Vatican? A priest who's not afraid to wield a stake'and a sharpshooter loaded up with silver bullets, it's payback time. The only problem is that the vampires have no intention of going down easy. They have their own hit list, and Jack Crow's name is scrawled in blood right at the top.

368 pages, Paperback

First published May 5, 1990

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About the author

John Steakley

8 books210 followers
John Steakley, born 1951 in Cleburne, Texas was best known for his science fiction writing. He wrote two major novels, Armor (1984) and Vampire$ (1991), the latter of which became the basis for John Carpenter's Vampires movie. He also wrote several short stories in the sci-fi and fantasy genres. Not a prolific writer, he lived most of his life in Texas, aside from brief spells in South America and Hollywood in his youth. Steakley died after a five-year battle with liver disease at his home in McKinney, Texas. He was 59 years old.

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5 stars
917 (27%)
4 stars
1,137 (34%)
3 stars
839 (25%)
2 stars
293 (8%)
1 star
119 (3%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 255 reviews
Profile Image for Dirk Grobbelaar.
550 reviews1,065 followers
January 22, 2019
The visceral no-nonsense writing on display here might not appeal to literary snobs or self-appointed connoisseurs of horror haute cuisine, but it certainly gets the job done. Encounters with the Vampires of the title are heart-stopping affairs. They are feisty fiends: fast, inhumanly strong and very vicious. They’re also not in the least interested in being your boyfriend (or girlfriend).

It’s a gritty story, filled with blood, sweat and Texas dust; one where listening to Stevie Ray Vaughn may just save your life - literally.
All in all, it’s a solid story that is pretty fast paced for the most part. Even though the horror is based on jack-in-the-box scares and doesn’t really creep up on you, it doesn’t feel cheap at all. Indeed, this book is pretty darn scary at times.

There are even some poignant moments:
And then he stood up to retrieve a blazing skull that had rolled away from the flames. He eased it gently back into the fire with the head of his axe.

I’m subtracting a star, because the Fourth Interlude dragged a bit, although this bit impressed me, being the complete antithesis of the (silly) modern notion of a “romantic” vampire:
She saw him differently now, in his pain, and her contempt was joyous. There was no seduction here, no hypnotic gaze, no Voice. His skin was no longer smooth cream, but mottled, crinkled, paste.
The Undead, she kept thinking.
All those movies and all those stories I've seen and read in my life were fantasies.
But this is so true. He is not alive. He is Undead. He is Unhealthy.
He is scum.
Profile Image for Monica Medina.
72 reviews5 followers
March 27, 2020
Seriously. This is my all time favorite book. I've had to buy it three times because I read it over and over and eventually the binding wears out and the pages fall out.

It's not a great literary find. It is not going to change the world. It's about vampire hunters. But I loved every character, I loved the story the author told, and I cared what happened.

It could be that it was my age when I read it - I was a teenager. Whatever. I love Team Crow. And I still do.
Profile Image for Stephen.
1,516 reviews11k followers
June 2, 2010
3.5 stars. Don't start this book looking for a more detailed version of the John Carpenter film. Except for the opening scene which is fairly similar in both the book and the movie, the book is completely different (and much better). Nothing high brow here, Jack Crow (and later his buddy Felix) are hard drinking, foul talking, ill-mannered "western" type tough guys who track and kill vampires for a living. This is pretty typical "action hero" type stuff (I was reminded of Nick Nolte in 48 hours and James Woods in the movie Cop), but the author does it fairly well.

What I thought was interesting was the portrayal of the vampires which I thought was a unique blend of the pure evil monster vampire that used to be the standard and the hollywood "sexy killer" vampire made famous by Anne Rice in her Complete Vampire Chronicles. The main vampires in this book are portrayed on the surface as fairly handsome and successful men who have the "ability to mesmerize and hypnotize" people into doing whatever they want them to. What is unique is that what the vampires want to do is subject their victims to the most CRUEL AND SADISTIC rituals in which they are degraded, humiliated, sexually violated (often in front of their loved ones who are helpless to stop it) all for the sick pleasure of the vampire before they are ultimately and brutally killed. This was shocking (and at times difficult to read) but I did think it was a unique take on the vampire so I given the author points for that.

Well the bad "good" guys and the very bad vampires resolve their differences in a series of very bloody fights that leads to a "non-hollywood" ending that is still satisfying.

Overall, a decent book for those looking for a fairly unique take on the vampire along with a "shoot um up" action story.
Profile Image for Jonathon Von.
345 reviews31 followers
April 8, 2022
Shit. This is actually kind of a masterpiece. Vampire$ and Armor are really two sides of the same coin. Most of the themes are the same and, despite being different genres, the books cover a lot of the same ground. While Amor, in some ways is more direct and powerful, Vampire$ is a stronger narrative with better structure and a more relatable cast of characters.

It isn't going to be for everyone. Steakley has a way of writing male emotion that's actually disarming. There's something almost uncomfortably personal about it. Themes of depression, PTSD, survivor's guilt loom heavily over the work. This is weird as a lot of it is a sort of broad dark comedy action novel. But, for all the action, there's a genuine sense of the cost of violence and the spiritual toll of honor in the fight against evil. It's basically a western/military story about a group of mercenaries who covertly fight vampires with the aid of the Vatican. But several drunken binges later, and as the body count rises, you realize it's about the bonds of brotherhood formed in times of war and the absolute gutting loss that accompanies the death of a squad member. It's a ruminative, frustrating book about the masculine emotional response to war that's unexpectedly resonant. For readers expecting a goofy genre tale, it's a sobering reflection on the reality of the cost of violence.

There are aspects of romance and class too. These are themes that Armor also had but are realized better here. The hero wants to be a white knight for the tragic heroine but is afraid he kills everything he touches. The scenes with the girl's backstory are maybe the book's weakest point, as the vampiric moral downfall is a bit lurid and drawn out. But the natural reaction of indignation and protectiveness this inspires in the men I think shows a genuinely positive side.

Steakley only wrote two novels and they're both very unusual examples of a classic western format moved to different genres. They do sort of seem as one though, a kind of fictionalized diary. This is a book about how it feels to be a soldier and survive your friends and the struggle of rejoining society and I feel like there are a lot of young men out there who can and should read this guy's books and feel like somebody understands.
Profile Image for Mike (the Paladin).
3,145 reviews1,819 followers
June 26, 2012
My first take here is to say...This is a great idea, maybe someday someone will write a book about it. Of course, Monster Hunter International is already out there.

I've said a couple of things I'm going to say here before, about other books. This one makes me sad. As I've said before, I really wanted to like this book. And also as I've said before, the book is a mixed bag. There are some very good parts then again there are some parts that I found so stultifyingly slow I could have screamed. When it was over, I was really ready for it to be over. Sad.

The book sets out to tell the story of Jack Crow and his team of vampire slayers. They do it for money and because it has to be done. I never saw the movie based on this book, but I'm told after the opening scene that the two bear almost no resemblance. As I said the book is very much a mixed bag. It has areas or parts of almost brilliant writing interspersed between long dull background filler and plot exposition. The book reads to me like an overly long climax tale, as if it's the climax of a much longer work. And I don't mean longer in sheer length but longer in the sense that we would have profited from more of a "before story" instead of trying to bring us in where the writer did and then trying to fill us in with background stories ("interludes"), conversations and shots of mental struggles.

The story is rife with emotional strain and all the people are already almost to the breaking point when we join them. The angst is so thick that you can cut it with a knife all through the novel and we're told it's all because of their never ending struggle, "what went before."

Steakley also wrote Armor and that was my introduction to him. It's also why I bought this book. Wish I'd gotten the library edition as I doubt I'll ever go back to it. I've read some reviews from people who love this book and at least one from a reader who says they have worn out several copies. I'm glad they like it, it shows the difference in taste. I suppose that if you can get involved with the emotional struggles going on here it will help.

But I never did. Felix got on my nerves, Jack was broken from the time we met him and for both of them we spent most of the book putting together their emotional baggage and the horrors that made of them what they are. The other characters have less depth (and actually Jack and Felix aren't really painted in full three dimensions).

All in all somewhat okay, not really great and I can't get behind it and/or recommend it. Everyone will need to decide on this one themselves. Some good writing mixed in with some very slow story telling. Not great but not horrible. A borderline 2 stars.
Profile Image for Lizz.
221 reviews52 followers
January 7, 2023
I don’t write reviews.

And I never thought I’d enjoy a book with a dollar sign in the title. Don’t judge a book by its title, huh?

Vampire$ is very straightforward and isn’t a deep dive into the characters’ hearts and minds, but I think after reading They Thirst and Light at the End, it is a nice change for me. Jack Crow runs a team of vampire hunters at the behest of (or at least supported by) the Vatican. A surprise attack wipes out the majority of his team and the story is how the survivors reform the team and get revenge. Very straightforward.

There are a few plot holes, but just squint a bit and you won’t notice. It’s a nice ride.
Profile Image for Bryan.
316 reviews7 followers
April 8, 2011

Not a perfect book, and it's not like I'm well-read when it comes to Vampire novels, but I highly recommend this one. Don't bother with that Twilight stuff, here's the real blood and guts (and spines and viscera and...)

So what's so great about the book?

1) The creatures. There are various levels of vampires, and all of them are bloodthirsty fiends. They start as goons (basically shambling zombies), then graduate up to vampire status, and finally "master" vampire. Superbly chilling monsters - they can control a human's will and are beautiful, but this is not your romantic "she fell in love with a vampire" by any means. These creatures want to slit your throat and bathe in your blood.

2) The team. There was just something fascinating about the devil-may-care hard-drinking foul-mouthed group of vampire hunters. They don't really know all there is to know about vampires, but they're the best there is and they make it up as they go along. (I actually felt the book lost stride when it focused on the master vampires too much... I liked the mystery and the cavalier attitude it fostered in Team Crow).

3) The characters. Admittedly similar to #2 above, but the way the team acted still doesn't give enough credit to the individual characters themselves, so I wanted to give special mention here.

4) The writing style. Steakley didn't strive to make this a literary masterpiece. But he did perfect the rough and off-hand conversational style that kept the book moving along briskly and fit in perfectly with the type of testosterone-charged heroes he was writing about. Could not have been done better in any other style of narrative!

What were the drawbacks? Sometime the pacing would drag (especially when Jack Crow was recounting his first encounters with Felix, and when the damsel in distress was giving the details about the master vampire). But I have to admit that these were important, so I'm not sure how else Steakley might have found ways to solve this. For the most part, the plot was chillingly tight, and events moved quickly.

I did cringe a bit when it was revealed that "vampires don't like rock'n'roll". It kind of made it ironic that Jack Crow always spurred his team into action by saying "rock'n'roll" (even though he didn't know it at the time). The author needed vampires to like opera, but I found this a bit contrived.

If you're interested in the gritty details of how to fight vampires (and what can go wrong if the fiends get a split second to rip through the humans bold enough to think they can slay these mighty beings), then look no farther.

After reading this, try the novella I Am Legend for yet another vampire tale that is truly original and avoids any "Twilight" factor...
Profile Image for Mark.
73 reviews11 followers
November 12, 2007
Vampire$ is the second book by John Steakley. If the character names are familiar, it's because they are recycled from his previous novel, "Armor". Jack Crow, instead of being a famous space pirate, is now the leader of a group that hunts and kills vampires for profit. Felix, rather than being an expert ant-killer, is now a gunman.

The Plot:
Jack Crow leads a Vatican-subsidized band of mercenaries whose sole purpose is to kill vampires. Usually, vampires invade a small town and then sort of spread to take it over, like a disease. The townships hire the vampire hunters to come in and kill the vampires before that happens. They do this using a brute force approach consisting of destroying the house they inhabit, and then pulling apart the wreckage to expose them to the sun.

On the latest job, they successfully kill all of the vampires in an afflicted town. Afterwards, they are celebrating in a local hotel at night when a vampire "master" breaks up the party and kills almost everyone in the mercenary group. The twist is, the master vampire knows Jack Crow's name and who he is.

Jack Crow has to get together a new band of hunters; one of whom is Felix, a gunman. Steakley defines a Felix as a "gunman", which is an individual whose prowess with guns is so great, they become an extension of his body, rather than a handheld tool or weapon.

The rest of the book is Jack Crow and company being hunted by vampires by night, and hunting the vampires coming after them by day.

The Good:
I liked the way vampires were portrayed in "Vampire$". They are portrayed as godlike, impossibly beautiful monsters who possess the strength to rip a man in half as if he were made of tissue paper...and they do. Steakley made vampires scary for me again, and that hasn't happened for me since Stephen King's "'Salem's Lot" or Robert McCammon's "They Thirst". Absent here are the romantic bisexual heroes of Anne Rice's novels.

That is not to say that there is no sexuality to the vampires in this novel; there is. However, it's more of a humiliation/non-consensual kind of eroticism: a rape of the soul. Steakley does a good job of reigning it in, though, before it metamorphoses into hardcore pornography. That's a good thing, because it just wouldn't "fit" into the story like it would in an Anita Blake or Anne Rice novel.

The characters are compelling, and Steakley does a good job of depicting their reactions to their encounters with the vampires: their shock at realizing that vampires actually exist, their awe at the strength and speed at which the vampires move, and their post-traumatic stress at surviving an encounter with a "little god".

The Bad:
Some of the characters are a little one-dimensional. There's a "damsel-in-distress" character that, I feel, could have been fleshed out a little more. Also, even though Steakley does go into the psyches of his characters, it's not quite as compelling as his portrayals in "Armor", his first novel.

He does go into the perspective of the vampires a little bit, but his vampires are wholly evil. They aren't people who need blood to survive; they are evil beings who kill and cause suffering out of a desire to do so. I kind of wish that the vampires were a little more amoral rather than immoral. However, for the purposes of the story, I guess they HAD to be as evil as they were depicted.

My Rating:
It's the best vampire novel I've read in a long time. It was not just a horror novel; it's a thrill ride. If you're someone who wants to read about vampires as purely evil demonic beings, this will be your cup of tea. If you're a fan of Anita Blake or Anne Rice, you'll either be disappointed that their kind of vampires are absent, or interested in reading a different perspective.

I say give it a shot for the fresh perspective alone. I don't know of many vampire novels that depict vampire hunters, other than the Anita Blake series.

It's definitely a "good read".
Profile Image for Olethros.
2,617 reviews429 followers
December 30, 2014
-Con la Iglesia hemos topado en algo parecido a un western vampírico.-

Género. Narrativa fantástica.

Lo que nos cuenta. Jack Crow dirige un equipo de exterminación de vampiros. Durante un trabajo en Indiana, y tras tener sus más y sus menos con las autoridades locales, el nido parece destruido, pero lo que sucede durante la posterior fiesta demuestra que no había sido así. Cuando Crow habla con su jefe en Roma, Su Santidad tiene claro que es necesario que Crow vuelva al trabajo y que forme un nuevo equipo. Novela también conocida como “Vampiros S. A.”.

¿Quiere saber más de este libro, sin spoilers? Visite:

Profile Image for Greg.
52 reviews5 followers
January 11, 2021
Even though this title was not in a genre I often read, I found it an exciting and compelling page turner.

Central to the story is a “posse” of vampire killers lead by Jack Crow who have many weapons at their disposal - pistols with silver bullets, crossbows, stakes, bolts and vampire detectors. The vampires spit, and torrents of blood flow when they unleash their mayhem. The action is full throttle ultra-violent, colorful, erotic and theatrical throughout.

But Jack’s “team” are also a decent bunch underneath all the hard drinking and swearing. There is a mostly warm relationship between all players. They like wild parties, a drink at the bar, playing tennis, staying in hotels, and of course killing vampires in a “kick-ass style”. But they also grieve and support each other when a colleague is killed in the line of duty. One member is even a priest from the Vatican. They have such a terrible job to do though. But then someone has to exterminate all those mean ole vampires.

So in the end, Vampires has its heart in the right place. But is it a bloody great “yarn”?! A fantastic awesome read?! Yes to both. But it’s also a dark and thrilling tale with a great “down-home” charm.
Profile Image for Craig.
4,993 reviews116 followers
March 12, 2010
This is a very strange and challenging book, somewhat similar to his other novel, ARMOR, yet in ways vastly different. One confusing point that I didn't understand at all is that the two main characters in both novels have the same names, yet one is a far-future military space opera and the other a contemporary (well, twenty years old now) vampire novel. This one reads by turns like a horror novel, a mens' adventure book, and a study of interpersonal relationships. It's not much at all similar to the John Carpenter movie it inspired, but an interesting and captivating (if not always likable) read.
Profile Image for Naten.
12 reviews3 followers
February 19, 2008
When James Woods asked John Carpenter for a copy of the script to the movie based on this novel, the director should have just handed him the book. Written with such a visual style and with such suspense, it could have been the best vampire movie ever made. As it stands, this is simply the best vampire book ever written.
Profile Image for Badseedgirl.
1,258 reviews62 followers
March 1, 2022
I wish John Steakley had written more than just two books. And isn't that a wonderful name for an author, especially one writing a book about vampires!

Edited to correct my country bumpkin grammar, at least a little bit!
Profile Image for Terence.
1,160 reviews387 followers
June 1, 2012
The Good
The vampires: The vampires of John Steakley’s Vampires are TOUGH! At night they are nearly unstoppable killing machines, and even during the day, as long as they avoid direct sunlight, these SOBs are hard to kill. At one point, a master vampire has two arbalest bolts in him and falls 20 stories but still manages to walk away. It’s not hard to understand why these vampires would be at the top of the undead food chain.

The mental trauma: Steakley is at his best writing about the mental torture and damage vampire hunting does. Team Crow lives in a near constant state of combat; a perpetual free-fire zone. The author is very good at making you feel the terror, stress and confusion of the hunters as they face down their prey.

The Bad (or, more charitably, the not very good)
The story: Meh. I’ve read it before and, outside of the traumatic passages, the writing is just OK.

The characters: Steakley has a problem with women. At least, he has a serious problem depicting believable female characters. Annabelle is an impossibly good mother figure . Davette is a madonna/whore figure who’s as much a caricature as Annabelle. And her love-at-first-sight romance with Felix is ludicrous.

Plot hole: I’m sure there are more but this one is sticking in my craw: We’re to believe that after 2,000 years of fighting vampires, the Roman church’s operatives are so amateurish until Felix takes over the operation at the end?

Wouldn’t recommend the novel outside of readers who like the vampire genre and are tired of Twilight and its off-spring. Steakley can rise to emotionally torturous heights but there’s not enough writing here of that quality to make this anything more than an entertaining diversion.
Profile Image for Vivone Os.
555 reviews13 followers
May 27, 2023
Voljela bih znati što mi je bilo u glavi kad sam Steakleyeve Vampire stavila na TBR popis.
Bit ću velikodušna i dati joj dvojku jer sama ideja nije bila tako loša. Ali stil pisanja, opis glavnih likova, milijun nelogičnosti… De lega odluči se, jesu bad-ass vampire hunters ili su njonje koji se svega boje. Da ne spominjem količinu popijenog pića i popušenih cigareta, oni su svi valjda pola knjige proveli pijući i pušeći.
Što se tiče vampira, natrpao je Steakley tu svega i svačega. Kao strašni su, opasni, nadljudski jaki, ali skrivaju se i ono pet ljudi vjeruje u njih. I kao jedva pobijede nekog tog kao super jakog vampira, a onda u tri sekunde srede ono najjačeg mastera.
Vidim da se mnogi u osvrtima razbacuju s riječima poput “kultni” i “klasik”. Ja ne bih baš upotrijebila te riječi za opis ove knjige, ali neću biti nepristojna pa ću ovdje završiti s osvrtom. Waste of time. Da ju nisam čitala za buddy read, mislim da bi bila DNF.

Buddy Readathon sa Zdravkom – 5
Profile Image for Seth Skorkowsky.
Author 20 books312 followers
September 29, 2015
I picked up Vampire$ on audio and fell in love with it on the opening line:

"I know fucking well there's a God because I kill vampires for a living. Are you listening? I kill vampires for money. A lot of it. So don't tell me there ain't no God. I know fucking well there's a God. I just don't understand Him."

For starters, this book starts off very similar to the John Carpenter movie, but then quickly goes off into an entirely different story. Vampire$ is a beautiful mixture of pure gory horror and bizarre humor. It's like Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas meets Dracula.

The story takes place in the late 80's/ early 90's. Primarily Texas. Jack Crow leads a team of mercenaries, financed by the Vatican, on a quest to hunt and eliminate vampires. The monsters themselves are near invincible. They're fast, inhumanly strong, and the only real way to kill them is with sunlight. At night, or in the dark of a building, they're almost invincible. Also...no reflections. I really dig that Steakley's vampires cast no reflection. When characters ask how that's possible, the answer is simply that what makes them supernatural is the fact that they defy science.

The characters are larger than life, macho, chain-smoking, tough guys, but they're also human. Steakley shows how these characters behave as they do because they all know they will die at their job. They do not doubt it, and Jack Crow is tormented with the knowledge that every single person he recruits will be the best and because they're the best, he's sentencing them to a horrible death. The characters mourn their friends, they cry, they suffer post-traumatic stress, they're caring.

The book has its share of flaws, but they are far outweighed by how much fun it is. Steakley will kill characters. He will kill a lot of characters. At first, before you get to know them, you don't really care, but as you get to know them you do care, and then he keeps on killing them. But with the humorous narration and quick-witted characters, you'll be laughing moments before or moments after a gut-wrenching scene, sometimes during.

If you enjoy crude humor, serious action, and graphic gore, you'll enjoy Vampire$
Profile Image for Jennifer Wheeler.
549 reviews77 followers
August 16, 2021
I’m honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book. It’s full of action sequences that made me feel like I couldn’t read fast enough to keep up with. There were a lot of heart-stopping “Oh nooooo” moments, or scenes that made me gasp out loud. I’m fairly certain I annoyed everyone around me with my theatrics while I read. Each member of the vampire hunting team are vibrantly unique, and ultimately likable. I kept thinking that this would make an amazing movie….then halfway through had a sudden vague recollection of a movie with the same title that was released a long while ago. Sure enough, when I looked it up on IMDb, it was a movie released in 1998, but the description is quite different from the book. The only reason I know for sure the movie is based on this book is because it mentions the author’s name, and some of the main characters names are the same. The main character, Jack Crow, is played by James Woods, which is an odd bit of casting, since Crow is supposed to be 6’2, and heavily muscled 😅. I’m fairly sure I’ve actually seen the movie, but it’s been so long that I don’t really remember any of it, so I’m going to snag a copy from Amazon to watch. In any event, if you like old-school vampires, whirlwind action scenes, and kick-ass vampire hunters, I highly recommend this.
Profile Image for Gouty.
72 reviews11 followers
January 6, 2008
It is a pity that one can not give negative stars on Good Reads. Actually it is possibly an abomination even writing about this book on a site called Good Reads. Well, I am just too lazy to surf the web looking for: www.ohgodwhydidIwasteprecioushoursofm... thiswhenIcouldhavebeendoingsomethingbetterlikecryingandmasturbating.com.

This is one of those rare instances where one can say whole heartedly that the movie was better than the book. The movie was crap, but it had its pluses. It only took 108 minuets to get through, and had James Woods in it. The book on the other hand has no redeeming qualities, other than it might be useful to prop up a dresser, or some such other piece of furniture. It might have an incredible over the top ending that would put it in the running for the great American novel, but I would never know because I never was able to finish it. It was that bad.
Profile Image for Colleen.
753 reviews42 followers
July 7, 2009
A little on the fence with this book and not sure I can put my finger on what was wrong with it. Parts of it were rousing adventure/horror; other parts not so much. I grew tired fast with all the tears and uber testosterone weep-fests that occured after every vampire encounter. And I found vast chunks of the book as weirdly sentimental as Beth's death in Little Women.

Also the style of writing is a little florid. Don't get me wrong, the writing is a cut above most books like this, but poorly edited or something. Multiple times I had to skip back a page to figure out what happened. Author also really likes italics.

But one point in its favor is how Catholic Church is represented. A stuffy but enthusiastic force for good in the secret war against vampires. So I appreciated that the pope wasn't the arch-Nosferatu. I'll have to see the movie based on the book (which I keep hearing raves about) to see if Hollywood keeps that theme in.
11 reviews
April 24, 2008
I'm not sure what people who regularly read this stuff will think, but for someone who isn't into horror/thriller/Ann Rice I am shocked that I loved it. Brilliant. Lots of death, gore, swearing, and sex, and yet somehow I was never offended (though at times did have to put it down). Great characterization and great story. Author handled pacing very well - not so tense that you're worn out, yet definitely a page turner.

Profile Image for Slate R. Raven.
Author 3 books6 followers
December 7, 2020
Not bad, saw the movie first so this was totally unexpected. I was interested in the way they developed a leader from a follower. Over all I can say it’s worth reading. Some level of suspension of disbelief is required but that’s true of most fiction isn’t it?
Profile Image for The Black Hat Writer.
53 reviews6 followers
January 10, 2016
A truly promising idea that just falls flat on its fangs, breaking them off and taking away any bite that might have been. That's how I would describe "Vampires" by John Steakley.

It didn't take long for Steakley to put the stake right through the heart of this unfocused misadventure into the nightlife of battling the undead. Some strong characters are introduced, but soon become redundant, corny clichés of cheesiness and adolescent bravado, taking them to the point where I didn't care about them. There are points when the book becomes exciting, then hits the dust like daylight is rising and it has to get into its coffin before it burns. The entire novel is laboriously written and downright boring is the backstory given to the vampire and his helper. Too quick and rushed is the part given to the head vampire. Out of nowhere is where the character who ends up being the big hero comes from--and without much of a tale to tell. I have to wonder if Steakley has ever read a book before in his life.

But, even if all that were forgivable (which it really isn't), the writing is atrocious. It's like this novel was penned by a 6th grader for his English class and never revised or edited and handed in nearly illegible. Numerous spelling and grammatical errors are splattered across this novel. Run-on sentences and repetitious wording tie a noose around its throat; and, all the incorrectly written dialogue, the overuse of the word "and" in the place of a comma, and the constant use of "..." make reading this book feel like you are having your blood sucked right out of your veins.

I give this one a big sundown, as it rose as pale as a vampire and sucked the very will to read out of me. I tried garlic, holy water, and even took the book out into the sunlight to see if it would blaze up, but it didn't. So, as it stood, my OCPD would not allow me to trash this hideous unholy creation and move on to something that might at least appear to be written by someone with a competent grasp of the English language.

This is probably the worst novel I have ever read. There is some stiff competition in that category, but this is by far the most poorly written book I've ran eyes across. It is so bad, in fact, that it actually makes the abomination that was the film adaptation look good by comparison.
Profile Image for Alger Smythe-Hopkins.
921 reviews105 followers
July 21, 2016
Whoa nellie, is this book a product of its time, but that is not a good thing. This book is the distilled worst of the 1980s.

This book is icky. This book is bound with neon-colored spandex and mall hair. The story is inspired by cocaine-fueled nightmares. The soundtrack is a Nitro album. Tipper Gore hated this book.

For anyone reading this book now there is a strange feeling of familiarity about the premise, since Joss Weedon used virtually the same set up for Buffy the Vampire Slayer; A group of mortals fated to wage eternal battle against the forces of the undead, sponsored by an ancient order that keeps itself largely removed from the scene themselves. Their own immanent death is so much a part of their lives that they cannot plan for the future, and form intense relationships with their comrades.

Where Joss did this story one better is that he removed the hyper-macho stupid of the Vampire$ Inc crew and replaced it with the Scooby Gang. Erased the hard-drinking whoremongers, and filled the gap with teenagers with real human emotions and concerns.

Because this is an '80s fantasy novel it has to include a revolting episode of teen masturbatory fodder, but Steakley doesn't go halfway. Steakley happily slaughters whores in the opening pages, but that is just a warm up. Towards the last third of the book, there is one of the most egregious examples of Rape-Her-Until-She-Likes-It in existence. Not only this appalling to read just for the subject, but it is horrific in length and detail. Then this narration of horrors (Steakley seems unaware, btw, that this word can be spelled without a 'w') becomes a romantic episode. And I don't mean horrors like the shivers one gets from 'Salem's Lot, I mean disgust and anger for being forced to read something Steakley so obviously wrote with dick in hand.
Profile Image for Benjamin Thomas.
1,953 reviews272 followers
May 23, 2021
I really didn’t know what to expect of this novel when I first began reading it and now that I’ve finished…I’m not sure how I feel about it. It’s the story of a group of present-day mercenary vampire hunters who will clean out a nest in return for dollars. They don’t really seem to do it for the pay though so much as the idea of “somebody has to do it”. The team is led by Jack Crow and we discover during the course of the novel that he has been doing this for three years which is longer than anybody else he’s heard of. But he also knows he won’t ever win the war; there will always be more nests and he and his team can’t live forever.

These vampires are tough creatures to kill. This is not Buffy’s universe where you can simply go out on patrol, stake a few vamps here and there and call it a good night. These are horrendous monsters and it takes all of their ingenuity and teamwork just to kill the “normal” ones. When it comes to the masters, it’s a whole ‘nother level. Practically like fighting a deity.

Parts of the novel were excellent, especially some of the fight scenes. My eyes were glued to the page to see how it would turn out. It’s like reading a hard-boiled men’s adventure story…with vampires. But other parts, unfortunately, were drawn out introspectives or flashback descriptions of a character’s past which I simply needed to plow through to hopefully get back to the good stuff again. The team members know their chances of living past the next battle are not good, so their down time is predictably crude and filled with hard drinking. Not especially fun to read about. Some of the characters are already broken, even at the beginning of the novel. I think I know what the author was trying to do with this "character building" but it didn't really work for me.

So in the end, I must settle on the dreaded "3 stars", neither loving it or hating it. More of a "meh".
Profile Image for Paul.
201 reviews23 followers
February 14, 2013
These are not your soppy brooding angsty vampires. Nor your sparkling Twihards. These are MONSTERS. One of my favourite vampire novels in that the vamps are creatures that are feared for a reason. They can bench press a car and outrun a horse.
Jack Crow and his team are charged with the job of killing them. No witty quips while dressed in heels as you stake them, this is armoured fighting and pray you don't get too close.
It's a great book and it's a refreshing change from all the high school romance vamp trash that's flooded the market in recent years.
Profile Image for Tom.
507 reviews15 followers
January 14, 2010
A cheesy, slightly enjoyable vampire book that they made a cheesy, less enjoyable vampire movie in the 90s with James Woods ("John Carpenter's Vampires").

The book plot and the movie plot completely diverge from each other after the initial couple of scenes. You might be best off avoiding both the movie and the book.

Disappointing, because Steakley's other novel Armor is one of my favs.
Profile Image for Steven.
Author 48 books132 followers
March 17, 2021
It's been a while since I finished a book I disliked so much. The characters are shallow, drunken, and unlikable. The writing is juvenile and repetitive. There are pages and pages of boring, angry introspection. And Steakly didn't know anything about guns. He continually refers to a semi-automatic as an "automatic" and once even calls it an "automatic revolver." Towards the end of the book Felix is always called "Gunman Felix." The whole thing was just a mess.
Profile Image for Tony.
78 reviews11 followers
January 17, 2008
The basis of the John Carpenter movie "Vampires". All in all, while I am a big fan of JC's movies, I found the book far superior to the film. The story follows a small group of Vatican-funded vampire hunting mercenaries, and what happens when the vampires decide to hunt them instead. If you are tired of the "Lestat" type of vampire, I really suggest giving this a read.
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