Author: Stephen Volk
Publisher: Spectral Press
Page count/size: Novella length
Release Date: April 2013
Reviewer: Andy Angel
It is 1971. A man, sad, broken and devastated by the loss of his wife walks along the beach at Whitstable in Kent. He is approached by a 10 year old boy who wants his help.
The man is Peter Cushing but the boy recognises him as Van Helsing, the vampire hunter he has played on the silver screen. He needs ‘Van Helsing’ to save him from his mother’s boyfriend who he believes is a vampire that comes to him in the night.
This novella has several things in its favour; the first, and strongest (for me) is the sense of loss in the character of Peter Cushing. It is only a month or so after the death of his wife and it is really hitting him hard. He doesn’t want to have to face people, he doesn’t want to interact with the world. The depth of feeling with this character is so strong that you may just want to reach into the pages of the book to console him.
The second is the horror of the boys’ story and his skin crawling nastiness of the mothers’ boyfriend. Cushing may have vanquished all kinds of monsters at the movies but will he be able to stand against the monster in the real world?
The final meeting between the two takes place in a cinema where one of Cushing’s movies is playing while they face off and this is very cleverly done. It gives a very real sense of reality to the event, flicking from Cushing the Big Screen Hero, to Cushing The Man, back and forth and on and on. Trust me, tense doesn’t even come close.
This is a wonderfully written and absorbing novella that, in my opinion, deserves to be a massive success.
This novella is a work of fiction written to mark the centenary of the birth of Peter Cushing and as such is a worthy tribute to a great actor.