First published in May of 2011, Gregory Yeates’ (aka Gregory James) debut novel ‘The Eyes Of The Dead’ was a self-published venture for the British born author.  The tale forms the first part in the series collectively dubbed ‘The Vetala Cycle’.

DLS Synopsis:
Private Reginald Wilson can’t remember anything of his past.  Vague memories haunt his sleeping hours like a night-time ritual.  Memories of a fire, consuming everything and everyone around him in its unrelenting hunger to devour.

Now, a solider with only his name left as a token of who he really is, he is confronted with the very real horror of war.  Thrust into the Battle of Passchendaele within World War I, Wilson awaits the command to advance across No Man’s Land.  With Smithy and Brookes by his side, they are about to leave the boggy rain-filled trenches and advance towards Black Wood.  Hope is now just a faint whisper amongst the chaotic thundering of the German’s relentless artillery.

Somehow, with some unknown fortune, they make it to the dark embrace of the woods.  But in its clinging depths lurks an age old evil that has its glowing eyes set on the soldier.  When his companions fall, Wilson has a choice.  He knows that he must do the right thing by them.  But death looms everywhere, and sanity is just threadbare in the horrors of war.

Nothing stays dead when the mind has been consumed by this evil.  No one is safe, no matter where you run.  Wilson must claw through his mind for fragments of his past.  He must search for who he is, and what he must do to end this unforgiving horror.  Until he does, death and mindless bloodshed will haunt his every waking hour.  And his dreams will offer him no escape when his body cries for sleep.

Vampires are real.  Rats, corrosive mists, savage bloodthirsty wolves – the vampire can take many forms.  He must stand up to the beast, knowing who he is and what he must do, to end it all here and now.  But sanity is not on his side…

DLS Review:
The first thing that hits the reader when beginning the tale is the sheer poetry and literary skill of the author.  Yeates’ descriptive abilities at creating atmosphere and setting the oppressive mood are on a par with King and Barker when they are at their most hauntingly surreal.

Confusion and intentional disorientation play a staggeringly key role in putting the reader ill at ease with the unfolding tale.  The storyline throws the reader between dreamlike visions, to glimpses of stark (and downright disturbing) bursts of sudden reality.  And all through the eeriness of this battle with reality is the overbearing gloom of a dark evil that constantly bears down on the proceedings.

There’s literally no letting up from the ever-present evil that overshadows each and every page of the tale.  And interspersed with this oppressive morbidity are sudden barrages of some of the most imaginative and terrifying images of visceral gore that you are likely to come across.  There’s no getting away from it – in one fell swoop Yeates has carved his name in the flesh of the horror world with his astonishing ability to sicken, provoke, scare and utterly horrify.

The tale holds numerous passages that are nothing short of mesmerising with the poetic nature that Yeates has adopted to truly bring a life to the scenes.  There is always an underlying tension behind every development within the storyline.  Nothing, nowhere and indeed no one seems safe.  It’s an incredible achievement in itself that the author managed to successful maintain this claustrophobic air throughout the entirety of the tale.

At times the storyline does fall in on itself a touch, becoming somewhat swamped with the inner-battles of our principal protagonist – Wilson.  It’s certainly far from a disruptive element to the progression of the novel, but does leave the reader questioning perhaps a little too much at the times when the desperate action is at a pinnacle.

The tale ends on an impactful note, with the final showdown and inner-battle reaching a climatic finale.  From such a desperate clawing through a very vivid hell to get to this penultimate moment, Yeates unleashes all he’s got with the descriptive imaginary of the final conflict.

It’s clear that the author has an incredible wealth of literary talent at his disposal.  There’s clearly so much more to come from the writer, with ‘The Eyes OF The Dead’ just the tip of the iceberg. 

The novel runs for a total of 166 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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