First published in April of 2011, US author Serenity J. Banks’ debut full-length novel ‘The Left Hand’ saw its launch at the World Horror Convention 2011 in Texas under the horror author collective - Dark Continents Publishing.

DLS Synopsis:
From a drug deal gone horribly wrong, junkie layabout Eddie Kane is saved from a savage vampire attack by the mysterious arrival of Calif Cryste.  Now Eddie travels around the Midwest of the US with this enigmatic young man; eradicating lonesome vampire nests where they find them and writing about his confusion with it all.  The people of America have no idea that walking amongst them are their protectors.  A small collection of people who work independently, killing the vampire threat where they can find it.

However, as the two make their way across the tribal lands in their black Monte Carlo SS, their trail of unsolved murders is slowly catching up with them.  Special Agent Doug Delgulchi from the FBI is leading up the investigation.  He’s already linked the litany of murders together and now he suspects these two young men.

Time is running short for their mission against the scourge of vampires.  And more worrying still is the sudden and unprecedented numbers of vampires being found together in their nests.  Something is going on in the vampire world.  Numbers are suddenly increasing, as if the vampires are preparing for something big.  The day of the undead is almost upon them.  Hope lies with Calif.  Hope rests with the second-born…

DLS Review:
Trust me, you can leave your vampire-cliché-apprehension at the door.   From the very second you start down the dusty and blood-soaked path of ‘The Left Hand’ you will be flung into a tale of unrelenting horror, gritty suspense, and a living-breathing core of inner turmoil.

Meet the new breed of vampires.  These aren’t your dinner-suited, smug-faced sophisticate with a quaintly romanticised taste for a drop of after-dinner blood.  These are savage rotting monstrosities, nesting under the dusty soil during the daylight hours, to later feast on their victim’s blood once the night is upon the land.  More like the vampire’s from David Wellington’s ‘Thirteen Bullets’ (2006) series, Banks has taken a further and bolder step in redefining the vampire; creating an altogether new beast that terrifies and somehow embodies our modern day fears.

Indeed, Banks’ approach to the whole vampire threat is very modern and ingeniously in touch with our now inherent social fears.  Blood is the key.  Forget the annoying one bite and you’re turned rule.  Contaminating the blood with that of the infected is what passes on the undead virus.  At the point of death is where human life is extinguished and the undead vampire life begins.  And there too is where the new uncontrollably evil existence devoted to blasphemy and corruption takes route.

The novel itself is incredibly gritty, with Cormac McCarthy-esque settings laying the backdrop for two ingeniously contrived and developed characters.  Forgetting the whole vampire element to the story for just a second, you quickly see the beating pulse of a truly desperate humanity at war with itself.  This is an emotional journey of inner-turmoil and outward rage.  This is seeing behind the narrow fabrication of day-to-day trivialities and realising the greater truth.  It’s about acceptance, understanding and trust in the face of your own fragile mortality.

The impact and ambitious depth of the storyline, together with the final unfurling of the monumental understanding behind the vampire threat and their maker, is simply astonishing.  To think of this as a debut novel, with the sheer raw talent on show throughout the utterly captivating entirety of the story, is unbelievable.

The atmosphere maintained from start to finish is so palpable its almost smothering.  The bursts of violence that accompany the tale are harrowing in their savagery without slipping into any over-the-top splatterpunk stylings.  This instead projects a brutality to the text that lingers and cuts a hell of a lot deeper.

What’s more is that the novel is written by a female.  Hold that thought for a second before you start screaming about sexist preconceptions and the like.  It’s more than the brutality and inner-bitterness of the tale.  Serenity somehow taps into the masculinity of these characters and portrays them as convincingly real men – and not what a woman thinks makes a male character.  The quiet subtleties are all there, forming living, breathing men.  Serenity’s skill at depicting these characters is astonishing.

Further still is the injection of a love element that cleverly pulls on the heart-strings of even the most stone-hearted of readers, without succumbing to any clichés or loss in pace.  The subplot successfully develops even further on the character of Eddie whilst giving a warmth and human touch to the never-ending fight.

The ending and climax to the tale is truly breath-taking.  With no real room for error with its ambitious finality, Banks swallows the reader whole with her final onslaught of monumental violence and heart-stopping tension.  The underlying Christian theme to the whole plot is certainly not preachy or in any way pro-religion.   Like with John Prescott’s incredible ‘Pray’ (2011) trilogy, the story takes the ingrained basis of Christianity, distorts it, and warps it into a devastating horror novel.

This is a novel that no horror enthusiast should pass up on.  It attacks you.  It assaults you.  And it just keeps on pulling you along that savage dusty road; beaten and bloody, but ready for more.

The tale runs for a total of 198 pages.

© DLS Reviews

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