Book of Death by S. Evan Townsend (REVIEW)

Mixing genres is always a dangerous literary exercise, more often prone to disaster than to success, and the more distinct the genres, the more volatile the mixture is bound to be. With the notable exceptions of Brian Lumley and F. Paul Wilson, very few authors have managed to successfully merge a historical spy thriller with the supernatural. So, with that in mind, I was curious about the Book of Death . . . but also more than a little cautious.

Fortunately, S. Evan Townsend keeps the camp low and the adventure high, managing to tell a tale that intrigues even as it entertains.

On the one side of the tale we have a decent spy thriller laced with some military adventure. It all begins with a covert investigation of a seemingly innocuous Communist ball bearing plant that just happens to be in close proximity to the castle of Vlad Dracul. On the other side of the tale we have a solid horror story laced with vampires and dark magic. As if Dracula himself weren’t enough, Townsend works in a guild of necromancers to add some thrills and chills.

While I would have preferred either a clear declaration of the villain early on, or a bit more mystery as to his identity, the melodramatic foreshadowing does fit with the tale. Overall, I quite liked the style of Townsend’s writing, and the way in which he pays narrative homage to both genres. The pacing is strong, the action well-choreographed, and the gadgets well-balanced with the gore. There’s a slow unveiling of Peter’s back-story, rounding out his character quite nicely, and the plot is significantly more complicated than I expected it to be – even with the CIA and FBI involved.

I was hoping for something different with Book of Death, and I'm pleased to say it delivered.



S. Evan Townsend has been called 'America's Unique Speculative Fiction Voice.' Evan is a writer living in central Washington State. After spending four years in the U.S. Army in the Military Intelligence branch, he returned to civilian life and college to earn a B.S. in Forest Resources from the University of Washington. In his spare time he enjoys reading, driving (sometimes on a racetrack), meeting people, and talking with friends. He is in a 12-step program for Starbucks addiction. Evan lives with his wife and has three grown sons. He enjoys science fiction, fantasy, history, politics, cars, and travel.

You can check him out at:

Twitter: @SEvanTownsend
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