Am höchsten bewertete positive Rezension
My all-time favorite vampire novel
am 15. Februar 2017
Dan Simmons is a wonderful and versatile writer, as any reader of his other science fiction/fantasy novels knows. In "Children of the Night" he turns his formidable skills to the somewhat hackneyed genre of vampire novels. But let it be said without intending a value judgment: this novel has almost nothing in common with such vampire series as those by S. Meyer or A. Rice. No simpatico vampires here.
In addition to fantasy and creativity, writing a novel like this requires a lot of research, since Simmons not only locates it in an exotic but real place (turbulent post-Ceausescu Romania); he also offers a convincing scientific explanation for vampirism. He then masterfully synthesizes these elements into a gripping novel. Of course the original "Dracula" by Bram Stoker also took place partly in Romania, but in Stoker's novel Romania was more of a mystical place, far removed from the lives of readers. Although I did find Simmons' description exaggerated in its inhumane awfulness (and I hope for the sake of all Romanians that things were/are not quite that bad), one of the best things about this novel is the chilling portrayal of post-Ceausescu Romania. We see the country, and especially its health care services, through the horrified eyes of an American scientist. She is the main protagonist and the reader can easily identify with her and her quest to save at least one child. The subject matter rings true due to the widespread reporting on the wretched state of orphanages after the collapse of a regime which forced women to have children. After the broadcasting of such reports, Romanian children were adopted by people in many countries. Perhaps unfairly, this look at Romania makes it seem like the kind of place that would breed and tolerate terrible creatures like vampires. And terrible they are in this novel.
The second thing about this novel which sets it apart from most vampire sagas is Simmons' very convincing (at least for me as a layperson) physiological explanation for the need of vampires to drink blood. This is slowly discovered by our scientist protagonist after bringing a child with blood anomalies back to the States, where its condition is analyzed by a top university lab. Some readers found the long passages on the biochemistry of vampires boring - I not.
Where the novel starts to flounder a little in its believability (but not enough to make me want to stop reading), is when it morphs into an action novel with derring-do worthy of James Bond. I was also not convinced by some of the characters, especially the world-weary priest who materializes to come to the aid of our protagonist in the final battle of good against evil. On the other hand, I found the Dracula-like character extremely convincing and very very scary.
But I don't want to spoil things for readers, so will stop here with a five-star recommendation.