By Zachary J. Kitchen
CreateSpace, $16.99, 384 pages
The Unbeliever was an unexpected surprise waiting to happen. Opening in the desert sands of Iraq in the midst of combat, Major Max Bradley is faithful to the Marine Corps and his mission in the war. But when an unexpected attack happens and Max loses his leg in an explosion, he is forced to make an abrupt exit. Nothing Science Fiction-like here…yet. Trying to adjust to life outside of the Marine Corps, Max lives a secluded life of addiction and strives not to let his lost leg put limitations on his physical life. One sleepless night, Max goes for a walk and comes across two men attacking a woman in the darkness. Who better than a former combat-trained Marine to come to her rescue? Max takes the injured woman, Elena, back to his boat and the next morning she spins a tale all about vampires. Enter Science Fiction.
The synopsis available to readers about The Unbeliever gives no indication that the book will be about vampires except the classification as Science Fiction. Zachary Kitchen begins the story with a completely realistic situation and then stuns readers with the insertion of vampires. At first it is hard not to think that the story will cater to the vampire-craze that has breached America since Twilight, but this story is nothing like that.
Kitchen masterfully develops his characters to be believable and life-like. Max in particular has personality and dialogue that would make a Marine proud. Kitchen provides ample detail to flesh out his character’s backgrounds so the reader feels an instant and intimate connection with them. He also reveals details at the right time, so as to keep readers guessing throughout. It is easy to tell Kitchen did his research on vampire history. His story and details are more in line with Bram Stoker’s Dracula, a loveable classic.
The Unbeliever will hold the reader’s attention until the very last page. There are some rookie faux pas here and there that render parts of the story cliché but for the most part Kitchen did a good job taking a massively popular concept and turning it into his own story. The Unbeliever is a tale that readers will enjoy and remember. Fans of the genre should know that there are great vampire stories still available.
Reviewed by Lindy Gervin