The students at school are currently working on composing biographies. One 10-year-old, being a keen dancer, is researching the life of a famous ballerina.

Student: It says she died from pleasuring. What does that mean?

[The teacher and I exchange puzzled and concerned glances.]

Me: Ummm…wait…what?

Pleurisy. Because the illustration for the other “pl” word would probably be NSFW.

Student: Shall I look it up? [She’s already entered the phrase “meaning of pleasuring” in the search bar on her computer. Her hand descends towards the Enter button.]

Teacher and me in unison: NOOOOO!

Me: [frantically erasing the search] Let me just check that for you… [I type in a new search term. The first website I go to gives the person’s date of death, but not the cause.]

Teacher: [whispering] I know we tell them not to, but…just go to Wikipedia.

Me: [skim reads the article]. Pleurisy! It says she died of pleurisy.

 

 

(Words, people. Please use them responsibly.)

 

 

 


This novel spans several centuries, following the relationship of the two most iconic monsters in literary history. Once as close as brothers but now sworn enemies, Bram Stoker’s Dracula and Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein meet for a final showdown beneath the streets of New York City.
Night Things (Dracula versus Frankenstein) takes place in a world just like yours with one startling difference: every creature of legend has stepped forward from the shadow and they now exist shoulder to shoulder with humankind! New York City has become a macabre melting pot. Vampires, werewolves, zombies and ghouls are now the new immigrants and they are chasing the American dream. The Night Things have become part of the system. But many humans feel the creatures are dangerous ticking time bombs.
Dracula, considered the messiah of the Night Things, builds an unstoppable army as he plots to wipe humanity from the face of the earth. The mysterious New York crime boss, Johnny Stücke (the creation of Frankenstein) wants to keep the peace between the Night Things and humanity. Stücke fears total extermination of his kind, should Dracula unleash his forces on New York.
The fight for the night begins.
Critically-acclaimed horror author Terry M. West continues his Magic Now series with this standalone novel that presents a world only a slight shade darker than our own.

* * *

Think “True Blood” in an urban setting, add a dash of “The Sopranos” and blend in a big-budget action blockbuster finale, and you have something approximating Night Things. The subtitle – Dracula vs. Frankenstein – alludes to the novel’s B-grade horror inspirations. The monsters don’t stray far from the commonly accepted rules; vampires still drink blood and are killed by sunlight, zombies still eat human flesh (although there is an interesting new “rule” added for the zombies that allows them to function for the most part in human society, and I’m not too sure about the Mummy…). The writing is fast-paced and uncomplicated, with the occasional acute observation to lift it above common B-grade horror fare. My favourites include:

“And the world has a way of making those who are different believe they are monsters.”

“I have no respect for someone who doesn’t recognize the value of a scar.”

The monsters have a certain degree of nuance to their characterization; Johnny Stücke is a beautifully drawn anti-hero (Mary Shelley would probably approve of how he’s turned out in the 21st century), and human Gary Hack is this messed-up weakling of a man that you still somehow can’t help sympathising with. Even the “bad guys” have convincing backstories that explain how they turned to the dark side.

Readers who enjoy this novel will be pleased to know that the second Night Things book, Undead and Kicking, is due out in a week and the e-book can be pre-ordered on Amazon for under a dollar.

***

About the author:
Terry M. West is an American horror author. His best known works: What Price Gory, Car Nex, Dreg and his Night Things series. He is also the managing editor of the Halloween/horror website, Halloween Forevermore. He was a finalist for 2 International Horror Guild Awards and he was featured on the TV Guide Sci-Fi hot list for his YA graphic novel series, Confessions of a Teenage Vampire. Terry was born in Texas, lived in New York for two decades and he currently hangs his hat in California. www.terrymwest.com


Every once in a while, God and Lucifer visit the earth and make a wager. Now it’s time for the next one; the most daring yet, and quite possibly the last.

“This venture to live as men for a full year had been such a hilarious idea to start with. Prove Abe wrong… again… then head back to their respective domains and gloat about it forever. Only it hadn’t worked out that way. Things were different now. Having omniscient sight removed from him actually made Nick see things more clearly than he ever had. There’s harm in getting too close to a picture, but a different sort of harm comes from getting too far away from it.”

What starts as a simple contest becomes something more as their newfound humanity forces them to revaluate their relationship not only with the world, but with each other as father and son. Seen through the eyes of two men, on opposing sides of a family feud of epic proportions, each of them faces trials, heartache, love and real pain as they learn what it means to be human. Can old wounds ever really be closed? Can the past truly be forgiven? And can anyone ever fall so far that it’s too late for them to be caught? “After the fall? You rise.”

* * * * *

Nick and Abe explores the question that Joan Osborne asks –  “What if God Was One of Us?” Author Lex Jones takes two eternal archetypes, God and the Devil, and renders them small and human, giving them all-too-relatable problems as they navigate their way through the earthly realm without the assistance of divine powers and omniscience (well, Nick does cheat a little towards the end, but he wouldn’t be the Devil if he wasn’t open to bending the rules from time to time…). At first glance, Abe’s casting as a humble janitor and Nick as a ruthlessly successful ad executive seems clichéd. And it is, deliberately so; all the better to smash apart the clichés to get to the real people beneath.

Jones has some interesting takes on what we commonly hold to be true about the Christian faith. Nick isn’t really evil – but he is opinionated, materialistic and hedonistic, and driven by his long-standing feud with his father. And Abe seems hopelessly naïve for a man who is the fleshly representation of an all-powerful deity – until you understand that God’s entire modus operandi has been to observe from a distance, thus his understanding of humanity is incomplete.

Don’t expect thunderbolts, moving mountains and lofty proclamations – the story is character-driven and heavy on the dialogue, the quality of which is the novel’s greatest strength.

Nick and Abe on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Nick-Abe-Lex-H-Jones-ebook/dp/B01AXCM53O/