Walk Among Us by Vivien Dean – review

Rating: 7.5/10 ★★★★★★★½☆☆ Title: Walk Among Us
Author: Vivien Dean
Genre: Horror/paranormal
URL: Samhain Publishing
Price: US $3.50
Other Information/warnings: Violence, m/m
Summary [from the publisher]:
As an artist in New York City, Calvin Shumacher finally has the life he’s always wanted. In fact, only one thing can get him to come back to Illinois—his father’s funeral. All he wants is to bury his dad and hightail it back to New York, but a sniper at the graveyard puts those plans on indefinite hold.
So does Matthew Soto. The gorgeous gunman who speaks of monsters wearing human faces. And predicts there won’t be a body for police to find.
Calvin doesn’t know what to think when Matthew claims he didn’t do anything wrong. All he knows is that this man’s haunted eyes seem to pierce right into his soul.
But as each of Matthew’s assertions comes true, Calvin slowly realizes this killer could be the only thing standing between him and an unspeakable evil…

My review: We’re solidly in Buffy country here, without the vampires (thankfully). Ms Dean has written a taut little mystery/horror story, which ends a little too soon for my liking because she’s created two very likeable characters in Calvin and Matthew, and an intriguing set up – if there isn’t a sequel I’ll be both surprised and pissed off, because I really want more of this.

My only gripe about the story is the beginning. Calvin witnesses a shooting at his father’s funeral – and instead of reacting with horror and shock, he wanders off to look at the killer, has a conversation with him, and doesn’t mention this fact to the police. Nothing in his background or character explains this very odd reaction.

That aside, however, I liked the interaction between the two very much, and Matthew’s misery as a former priest tormented by an unwanted ability to see demons in their true form comes across as credible. Calvin’s artistic nature and urges make us understand how alien he is in the small town environment, as well as being used cleverly in the plot. Even Calvin’s father’s best friend, Eli, adds an oddly poignant note as the man who grieves for his friend when his son can’t. Little touches like that make the story come alive, and she does a good job of putting you in the environment. The writing over all is also very good and well-edited. If you like sex, there are two scenes which fit into the narrative nicely instead of feeling bolted on. The guys come to admit their feelings a little quickly, but the author effectively uses the time constraint of Calvin’s booked slight home as a way of ramping up the pace both of the action and the relationship.

It’s too short, that’s the major flaw with this – too obviously a set up for what I hope will be a long series. I was just getting into the groove when it ended. So write more, Ms Dean, as I’ll be eagerly awaiting the next one. Nice work, keep going!