The Hunger – Whitley Strieber

Whitley Strieber was always one of those authors that I’d heard of from the 1980s, had a handful of his paperbacks sitting on my shelf, but never pulled the trigger on. Maybe it was because he was kind of looked upon as a flake later on after he came out that he was abducted by aliens. Ever since, he’s wrote almost exclusively on alien abduction. It’s really too bad, because the other day I was looking for something different to read and my eyes kept coming back to THE HUNGER. After burning through it, I’m sad that I haven’t read more of his work and I’m really sad that he’s not in the upper echelon of horror. If THE HUNGER is any indication of his writing ability, he has the chops. Also, seeing that this was written in 1981, he was ahead of his time for bringing bloodsuckers into present day and altering them to a more believable folklore.

Miriam Blaylock has been through a few lovers. It would make sense seeing that she’s been around since before Christ was wearing diapers or whatever babies wore back then. Miriam turns her partners into what she is, a vampire. But not the Count Dracula kind of vampire. No, she can walk around in the sunlight with only minimal discomfort. She doesn’t sleep in a coffin. She casts a reflection in a mirror. Unfortunately, what she can’t have is a partner that lives as long as she does. While she lives forever, her partners that she’s turned through the ages live to be 150-200 years and then mysteriously lose their power to rejuvenate through their feedings. It’s like a switch is suddenly turned on and their Hunger comes more and more frequently until they have to feed all the time just to stay alive. Beside herself, Miriam learns of Sarah, a sleep researcher who stumbles upon the mechanism of immortality in lab monkeys, and takes a keen interest in her work. Will she finally be able to use Sarah to put a stop to her loneliness once and for all or will her immortality always be a curse?

THE HUNGER hits on many great points that I’ve never seen before in vampire lore. Strieber does this by slowly unveiling Miriam’s existance through the years in a series of flashbacks. In doing so, he creates a mythos that I can really buy into. I love how he explains certain vampire folklore through the years with a much more believable explanation, i.e. Why they need blood, how it helps them regenerate, etc. THE HUNGER is impressive and it stands more than equal next to my copies of SALEM’S LOT, THEY THIRST, and NECROSCOPE.

4.5 Blood-Thirsty Chromosomes out of 5

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