Night of the Dragon's Blood

Night of the Dragon's Blood
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 26-May-1997

A version of the following review will appear in The Vampire's Crypt 16 (Fall 1997).

William Pridgen. Night of the Dragon's Blood. Palatka, Fla.: Hodge & Braddock, 1997; ISBN 0-9636512-6-9; $24.95. (Hardcover)

What if Hitler had been a vampire -- and had made Eva Peron a vampire, too, as his first step toward world conquest?

That's the premise of this comic novel set in 1952 South America, where Hiram "Hi" Hickenlooper is stranded in fulfillment of his father's dream. Edgar Hickenlooper has vowed that his son will discover a lost city, and Hi has no choice but to comb the Amazon jungle per dear old Dad's wishes. While taking a break from playing would-be archaeologist, Hi had met Maria Eva Duarte and had a two-year fling with her -- until she left him for Juan Peron. Throughout the ensuing eight years, however, he never forgot her. And when her body is lying in state, Hi encounters a black-clad woman who looks *just* *like* Eva.

More like her than the body in the casket, in fact. Hi soon learns that his old flame has come back from her jungle seclusion to see Buenos Aires one last time before retiring to an existence with the man who made her what she now is -- Adolf Hitler himself. Eva warns Hi not to follow her.

More than love drives Hi to disobey the warning. An intelligence organization aware of Hitler's bizarre continued existence wants Hi, with his knowledge of the Amazon jungles, to track down the once and future Fuhrer before he can put his plot for world domination into action. Even Juan Domingo Peron supports Hi's trek into the jungle: he wants his Evita back.

With specialized herbal knowledge and fluency in German, Hi infiltrates Hitler's compound, Neuanfang (New Beginning), determined not only to destroy the Fuhrer and his literally bloodthirsty supporters but to free Eva and the human captives who constitute Neuanfang's blood supply. In the process Hi must become a vampire himself -- an additional complication to his plot. Even if the condition can be cured (as Hi believes), his confederates will be attacking the Germans' compound to destroy *all* vampires; he's got to put his plan into action and make his getaway -- and Eva's -- within a timeframe that doesn't allow for nearly all the variables that a compound of bored Nazi vampires and an unbalanced Fuhrer entail.

And is it funny? I thought so. Although a bit labored at the beginning ["She left Hi for Peron. High and dry." "Who is Drye?" "She left *Hi* high and dry"], there are lots of bits that made me laugh. Eva's bodyguard Wolfgang, who doesn't like being hit with bottles; the conversion pool, where piranhas convert prisoners into both blood and entertainment; officers Dorsch and Kegel, "wargaming" with toy soldiers and firecracker cannons while Hitler slaves away at his perpetually-in-progress memoirs, which he is determined to finish before attempting world conquest; and Hi's entire stay at Neuanfang, with its literally explosive conclusion (most splatter takes itself more seriously than this). The finale, with its cure for vampirism, doesn't live up to the buildup that Pridgen gives it, but the book's lively and often suspenseful (not to mention funny) middle compensates for the slow beginning and anticlimactic end. Don't cry for Evita Peron, Argentina. She's found a happy ending here.

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From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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