cover image The Lesser Dead

The Lesser Dead

Christopher Buehlman. Berkley, $25.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-425-27261-9

Buehlman (The Necromancer’s House) offers up a colony of fierce, brazenly unscrupulous vampires who reclaim the genre from angsty goths and return it to its fearsome and ferocious origins. Joey Peacock, the caustic, pragmatic, perennially horny 14-year-old at the heart of the story, drawls a recap of the 45 years since his parents’ maid, Margaret, turned him into a vampire. Then he settles into the vibrantly depicted year of 1978, in which an astoundingly creepy cadre of children threaten his vampire colony in the subterranean warrens of New York City’s subway system. The pretty little baby vamps are vicious and very hungry, so things take a spectacularly nasty turn before the adventures in undead babysitting begin to wear. The sharply witty tone and graphic style mine the darker facets of vampirism, while Joey’s complex relationship with Margaret, and the poignant, prickly camaraderie he shares with Cvetko, an older vampire, add heft and humanity to Buehlman’s distinctive, twisty entry into a crowded genre. (Oct.)