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review 2016-12-03 03:03
They Thirst - Robert McCammon
They Thirst - Robert R. McCammon

I'm not sure how this one slipped through my fingers. I could've sworn that I'd read They Thirst many, many years ago, but for some odd reason I couldn't remember much at all about it. So, I figured it was time for a re-read. Well, now I know why I don't remember much about it - I never read the damn thing, in the first place! And oh what a treat this has been. Imagine discovering a new book by your favorite author written smack dab in the time period of when they did their best writing. That's what They Thirst was for me! Now, McCammon lists this as one of his early books that he's not very proud of and, yes, you can see a few things that might not fly these days. But, keep in mind, this was written back in 1981. Many things written in '81 wouldn't fly today! So, in my opinion, McCammon should be very proud of this one.



Andy Palatazin is the head of homicide in L.A. and is working night and day to catch The Roach, a serial killer that roams the streets strangling prostitutes. Soon, Andy will have to deal with an evil that has followed him to the states from the old country. One that makes The Roach seem like child's play. Gayle is a reporter for the Los Angeles Tattler, a National Enquirer type of tabloid rag that Andy despises having to give any type of interview. Gayle, who is hot on the story of The Roach, longs for her big break that will allow her to work for a respected newspaper. Soon, Gayle will come face to face with a far greater story of evil. In East L.A., Father Silvera works tirelessly to keep the drug dealers out of his parish. Soon, Father will discover that his parishioners have a much greater evil overtaking them than addiction. For Wes, an up-and-coming comedian, he's looking at a bright future with his African girlfriend, Solange, who also happens to be sensitive towards the spirit world. Soon, Wes will find that Solange's talents are much more than parlor tricks. At the top of the hill overlooking L.A., an evil has moved into the abandoned castle that eccentric horror movie actor, Orleen Kronstein, resided in many years ago. And this evil is looking to grab L.A. by the throat.



They Thirst is a fun-filled romp of a vampire story done right. The characters and the atmosphere are perfect. Think of how the movie The Lost Boys was done (six years after They Thirst was written, mind you) and you'll get an idea of the tone of this one. McCammon's greatest strength is his wonderful characters that you feel like you know and They Thirst is no different. Top notch all the way. Sink your fangs into this one immediately!



5 dug up coffins out of 5


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review 2015-10-07 00:00
They Thirst
They Thirst - Robert R. McCammon,Rowena Morrill This is another book I've been moving from house to house, from state to state, for several years. I think I had this book when I was still in college, and I graduated in 1994. So ... dang, twenty-one years at least. I was big into horror when I was in high school, and that interest stayed with me through and beyond graduate school, so I read most of what McCammon had written up to that point, and really enjoyed it. I remember tearing through Swan Song in one weekend. So when this one came up in my reading list, I was excited to finally get around to reading it.

The problem with reading something like this is that my tastes have changed a lot since then, and that I'm a different person from who I was back then. I still enjoy a good horror story, but having read so many of them, what I call a good horror story is different from this book. It's about vampires, which is fine (I think it's required for a horror author to have at least one of these in their body of work), but ultimately it's a very ordinary vampire story. It's certainly better than the dark, brooding, emo vampire stories that have taken over the genre, but there's nothing extraordinary here to set it apart from other vampire stories. Considering that this book was published in 1981, that might not be a fair criticism, but it's true.

The good thing is that a talented enough writer can take an ordinary type of story and make it engaging enough to enjoy it. 'Salem's Lot is a great example. Little of what King writes could be considered ordinary, but when you look at the structure of that story -- one person against a vampire invasion, the slow takeover of a town, the main character losing a loved one to the vampires, and then a hard-won victory at the end -- it follows the same basic tenets of other vampire stories. But King's characterization and plot skills set the story above and beyond any ordinary vampire novel, making it something extraordinary.

McCammon has these same skills, but somehow it's not enough to elevate the story to being a classic like 'Salem's Lot. McCammon has said before that he doesn't think much of his first four books (They Thirst being the fourth one), because he felt like he was learning to write in public, and I wonder if that's the reason the book feels insubstantial. (Interestingly enough, McCammon references his own Bethany's Sin, one of those four book, in the narrative. One of the characters doesn't think much of it.) It's hard to be too critical of issues with the story knowing that, but there was still stuff that caught my attention. Here, McCammon has a habit of changing points of view suddenly in the middle of a chapter. In some cases, this is handled well, but in others, it's jarring. It wasn't uncommon to have him tell most of a chapter from one character's POV, and then in the last paragraph jump to someone else responding to that character. It felt clumsy, sloppy even.

McCammon doesn't shy away from going big, though, with the scope being the entire city of Los Angeles. The events of the novel happen in about a week, with the goal of the vampires being to take over the entire city of eight million people. That scope means there are a lot of characters, with a lot of them getting a lot of face time in the story. Not all of them wind up being long-term characters, and my guess is that McCammon wanted to create a connection between the reader and the character before making them a victim, but it didn't work for me. They felt too cliched, too two-dimensional to really sympathize with them.

There was still a lot to like in the story. Things happen quickly, and it reminded me a little of a zombie plague. Interestingly enough, I finished watching Fear the Walking Dead while I was reading this, and one of the things I liked about that show was the character who said, in the second episode, "When civilization ends, it ends fast". The same is true of They Thirst. Plus, McCammon included a massive sandstorm near the end of the story, which I thought was used to great effect.

I'm glad I read the book, to bring myself one book closer to reading all of McCammon's horror novels (Mine is still on the shelf), but I'm not sure if I could recommend it, save to the most hardcore of vampire fans. Then again, people who have read and enjoyed McCammon's works would enjoy it for the curiosity factor, if nothing else. I can't rank it among his best novels, though.
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photo 2015-04-13 04:12

There's just something about worn Robert McCammon paperbacks that makes me feel happy inside. 

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review 2014-11-11 00:00
They Thirst
They Thirst - Robert R. McCammon I listened to this one on audio and the narration was very good and the story was paced evenly throughout. It’s not fair to say that the character Palatazin reminded me of the guy in the Strain, but he really did. Ok, I get it that They Thirst was written almost 30 years before The Strain, but I couldn’t help it, especially with the heavy accent on the narration.

They Thirst is a good time 80’s horror romp, as the King of Vampires plots to take over the entire city of Los Angeles and then the rest of the world. Solid characterization and plotting. Definitely entertaining. Definitely 80’s. Definitely a classic.
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text 2014-01-13 16:48
Author Spotlight-Robert McCammon!
Boy's Life - Robert R. McCammon
The Wolf's Hour - Robert R. McCammon
The Five - Robert R. McCammon
I Travel by Night - Robert R. McCammon
Speaks the Nightbird - Robert R. McCammon
Usher's Passing - Robert R. McCammon
Gone South - Robert R. McCammon
They Thirst - Robert R. McCammon,Rowena Morrill
The Queen of Bedlam - Robert McCammon
Mine - Robert R. McCammon


Robert McCammon is one of my favorite authors. In fact, he is tied with Stephen King as my favorite author of all time. Over the years, he has consistently pleased, terrified and wowed me with his terrific writing. The genre of the story makes no difference, (he has written horror novels, mysteries, thrillers and historical fiction among others), the novels, short stories and novellas like I Travel by Night are all fantastic and feature complicated characters that you really care about. 


One of his publishers said: "Think Robert R. McCammon is simply out to scare the living daylights out of you? Think again. "'I want to tell a human story about a person's journey through a forbidding or threatening world," says McCammon. In other words, while gore and horror might weigh heavily in his work, the real story, the one that is always in desperate need of telling, is a personal one. McCammon wants readers to connect with the inner lives of his characters. ' " (Credit: Open Road Integrated Media, http://www.openroadmedia.com/robert-mccammon)


My favorite Robert McCammon book is Boy's Life. This is not a horror book at all. It's a coming of age tale that will make you feel young again. My favorite quote of all time comes directly from this book:


 “See, this is my opinion: we all start out knowing magic. We are born with whirlwinds, forest fires, and comets inside us. We are born able to sing to birds and read the clouds and see our destiny in grains of sand. But then we get the magic educated right out of our souls. We get it churched out, spanked out, washed out, and combed out. We get put on the straight and narrow and told to be responsible. Told to act our age. Told to grow up, for God's sake. And you know why we were told that? Because the people doing the telling were afraid of our wildness and youth, and because the magic we knew made them ashamed and sad of what they'd allowed to wither in themselves.” 


If you're not reading Robert McCammon because you think he writes scary, gory books, (and he does, but he's so much more than that), you could try one of his historical fiction novels featuring his character Matthew Corbett. The first one is Speaks the Nightbird. This series takes place starting in 1699 and it continues on into the early 1700's and the new state of New York. There are currently 4 books in this series and the next book in the series, River of Souls is due out this year. 


Another contemporary novel you might be interested in is The Five.  This story follows a band on the road (The Five), for what looks like what will be their last tour together. There are some horrific elements to this novel, but its spirit is uniquely its own. If you love music and have any interest in how bands write songs and most importantly, how those songs affect people, this is the book for you. (We are reading The Five this month in the Robert McCammon group at Goodreads. If you are interested in joining us we would be ecstatic to have you, just click here to join:  https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/67667 )


Lastly, if you do enjoy horror, and I have to imagine some of you do if you're following this blog, you have a plethora of books to choose from. The Wolf's Hour is a great place to start. This book features a werewolf spy during WWII, named Michael Gallatin.  The movie rights have recently been purchased and it will be exciting to see something from Robert McCammon on the big screen, if everything works out.  And if you like The Wolf's Hour, you can then move on to Hunter From the Woods, which contains short stories and novellas concerning Michael Gallatin's time with his "pack" and also his time after the events in The Wolf's Hour. 


If you like Edgar Allan Poe then Usher's Passing might be the book for you. Based and building on E.A. Poe's story The Fall of the House of Usher. Creating an entire family, from the insufferable patriarch down to the model/drug addict daughter, Mr. McCammon sucks you in and is full of surprises from start to finish. 


To wind this up I'm just trying to say that Robert McCammon has something for everyone. Even crossing genre lines, Mr. McCammon is reliable as a writer that creates wonderful, memorable characters that will never leave you. Be they from a horror novel like Stinger, a coming of age novel like Boy's Life or an historical fiction novel like Speaks the Nightbird, it doesn't matter..the characters are fantastic. Cory Mackenson from Boy's Life will always be a part of my life. Let him become a part of your life too!

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