Monday, 1 September 2014

Review: House of Corruption by Erik Tavares

Erik Tavares' House of Corruption is a great find to any fan of werewolves or the horror genre in general. Set in the 1890's, the protagonist is Reynard LaCroix, a werewolf, who has been able to avoid his curse for the past few years with the help of a silver bullet that is lodged inside his chest. Rather than focussing solely on werewolves, House of Corruption adds other more or less traditional horror genre creatures; undead demons.

Naturally, Raynard's seeming ability to stop his transformation attracts the attention of those looking for a cure. And in this vein, his sister is kidnapped. In order to rescue her, Raynard LaCroix teams up with the scholar who shot him with the silver bullet that keeps his werewolf at bay, a gunslinger who is on the run from his past and falling in love with Raynard's sister and a woman who may or may not be telling him everything she knows. They travel from New Orleans to Marseilles and finally to Borneo where they face their ultimate challenge.

Erik Tavares builds the sets very nicely and it becomes clear that he's done his research in each of these locations as they were in the late 19th century. His writing style reminds me of classic adventure stories, including Bram Stoker's Dracula, and there's even a classic travel scene that is related through the diary notes of one of the characters. The writing is also very evocative and, at times, beautiful. Action is mixed very well with characterisation and descriptions of the environment and atmosphere.

Tavares' werewolves are slightly different from the genre trope, which is always a bonus in this genre. Rather than a curse spread by the bite of a werewolf, it is here a family affliction dating back several hundreds of years. It does not affect all the members of the family lines, however, and seems to skip a generation here and there. Other than that, the beasts are pretty traditional: bipedal monsters who lose their minds to a bloodlust that runs for days at a time and seems quite uncontrollable. However, for those looking for a pure werewolf story, this may not be quite what they are looking for: a lot more time is spent uncovering quite other kinds of mysteries.

Overall, I found House of Corruption a very enjoyable read. Written in a very traditional adventure style, it was a breath of fresh air in a publishing environment that generally no longer has time for lingering descriptions of atmosphere and city scapes or characterisation in a horror novel. I urge you to give this one a try and I hope that the author is planning a sequel in short order!