Rulers of Darkness

Rating: 
3
Rulers of Darkness
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 4-Mar-1996

Adapted from "Vampires in Print," The Vampire's Crypt No. 12 (Fall 1995)

Review by Cathy Krusberg

Steven G. Spruill. Rulers of Darkness (St. Martin's Press, 1995; $22.95/$31.99, hardcover; ISBN 0-312-13163-1).

Detective Lieutenant Merrick Chapman pursues a killer who shredded a victim's throat with his teeth; a killer who "signed" his work by smearing blood on a gargoyle higher than any human could leap to; a killer who took none of the victim's blood but bled on her, leaving a sample that could unveil a deadly secret not merely about the killer but about Merrick himself. Merrick is not a normal human but a *hemophage*, a creature whose kind inspired the legends of vampires.

Strong, undying, and always hungry for blood, hemophages prey on humans while hiding among them. They can make themselves seem invisible by controlling bloodflow to human retinas, creating blind spots for would-be witnesses; can cause unconsciousness by stifling the brain's supply of blood in an intended victim. Merrick himself, however, is a dark legend among his own kind: for centuries he has hunted and killed hemophages who wantonly, needlessly destroy humans, which means most hemophages -- and certainly the one who has reappeared in Washington, D.C., after a twelve-year hiatus, determined not only to taunt Merrick but to destroy him.

Spruill has made Rulers of Darkness more than a police procedural not only with the added depth of Merrick's strange, often divided loyalties but with the divided loyalties of the killer himself. Zane's plans are complicated immeasurably when he learns of a child he never suspected he had, a hemophage in the making whose existence wakens empathy Zane finds puzzling, almost frightening. How can he teach his offspring to kill humans that look so like their own kind? And how can he protect her from Merrick until she learns to hunt blood for herself?

I've read enough vampire books that one more take on "the reality behind vampires" doesn't particularly impress me, however carefully constructed the medical premise. Some of the resolutions in Rulers of Darkness seemed too convenient for comfort, but overall it's a well-crafted book, its action and suspense well-balanced by human interest.

Fanged Films

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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