When it comes to vampire stories, BUTCHERS has a unique premise. It’s one of the things that first caught my interest, aside from the eye-catching cover art. Reading this book was a new experience to me in several ways. I think that it’s the first horror story I’ve read about Asian characters; I’m aware of quite a few Asian horror films, but can’t say that I’ve been exposed to many of these stories within literature before. This particular tale is set in South Korea, and I enjoyed the snippets it provided in regard to culture and setting.
This is a fast-paced novella, and the author drops the reader in on the action from the very beginning. I thought that he did a great job with packing in some history on the main characters in so few pages—it never felt like too much. It was nice to have a glimpse of their pasts, and this added in my development of empathy for several of the characters. Without spoilers, I’ll say that this is a story about modern-day vampires blending in with human society, while maintaining order within their own species. As I mentioned earlier, there were some unique takes on the vampire trope, and I really enjoyed that. One aspect that really stood out to me was the description of how the vampires dealt with pretending to be human—trying to blend in but having to be cautious in order to do so. In a lot of vampire stories, their lives seem glamorous, but we don’t always see the negative aspects. Todd Sullivan shows the reader this downside when he describes how the vampires must restrain their speed and other abilities, and he also notes how they must consume human food to blend in. Some of my favorite scenes (and also some of the most cringe-worthy) involved this piece of their lives. There are some tense and visceral moments of horror throughout this story. The author doesn’t hold back in describing the brutality that the characters endure and dish out to others. It’s gory at times but never felt over the top or out of place to me.
My connection to the characters is always important in a read, and that was a standout aspect of this story for me. While I didn’t share their particular life experience, the author was able to humanize even the villains, and that added to my understanding. There’s just enough information in this story to leave you wanting more at the end, and once I finished reading, I discovered that there is a sequel, so I’ll be adding that to my TBR. If you’re looking for a fast-paced horror novella that reads like a movie, I’d recommend checking this out—especially if you’re looking for a fresh perspective on the vampire story.