By Ian McCain
Ian S McCain, $2.99, 281 pages
Ernie was just another homeless boozer spiraling toward self-destruction on New York City’s deadly streets until the night he contracted a mysterious virus. It spread through his sickly body increasing his strength, speed and resilience, making him nearly immortal. However, such power come with a price. He must work for the rest of his life under Gideon and his shadowy Organization distributing a certain product throughout the city. This product is the only thing that can quench the thirst that threatens to drive individuals like Ernie into an inescapable murderous Rage. This product is human blood.
“Some new sound has been introduced to the environment, something that doesn’t belong.”
Product is a very well crafted work that infuses creative elements into a horror subgenre that has been so exhausted and exploited over the past few years. The vampires populating the world of Product do not sparkle in sunlight. Rather, they organize themselves into a complex underground network socially stratified by the different methods in which blood addiction can be indulged. The dynamics between those that drink and those that inject human blood are well developed as is the overall setting of the story. The details used to describe New York City makes the city come alive almost like it is a character in and of itself.
Ernie is an intensely likable protagonist. He is smart-alecky and sarcastic, but also quite caring. The genuine regret he feels about the choices he has made throughout his life is absolutely heartbreaking. Similarly, Gideon is a darkly compelling anti-hero. His central role in creating a farm to harvest human blood from captured criminals can be seen as dastardly, yet not outright detestable. Readers will surely empathize with the conflict this character feels pursuing the greatest good for his accursed kind, especially once introduced to an even more insidious threat by the novel’s end.
The ending, however, is really the novel’s only mentionable misstep. While somewhat satisfying, some readers may feel like it goes too far in setting up the inevitable sequel. Still, Product is a quick and excitingly entertaining read. It will most definitely captivate any horror fan ready to open wide and drink it up.
Reviewed by Michael Albani