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Midnight Mass    by F. Paul Wilson order for
Midnight Mass
by F. Paul Wilson
Order:  USA  Can
Tor, 2004 (2004)
*   Reviewed by Martina Bexte

Vampires have come out of hiding and taken over much of the world and have now begun their march across North America. Those humans that haven’t been drained or enslaved remain hidden in the hopes of being overlooked as the vampires continue their relentless domination. The bloodsuckers have enlisted human 'cowboys' to help them. During the day, when vampires are most vulnerable, it's up to the cowboys to guard their dark burrows and lairs, making sure that nothing disturbs their daysleep. They're also responsible for rounding up humans, to keep their masters' blood supply fresh. After a decade of service, cowboys are promised that they will be turned and hence granted eternal life.

The vampires have swept into a small town along the New Jersey coast and soon discover that vigilantes are killing cowboys, leaving their masters increasingly vulnerable. It's here that a disillusioned priest, his niece, an angry nun, and an old rabbi decide that enough is enough. First they take back Father Cahill's church, then stand their ground and fight back. Their success garners support and trust from former parishioners, who also take up arms, stakes, crosses and holy water - any way or means they can find to defeat the vampires. When they discover that Sister Carole has been waging a one woman war against the cowboys, Cahill and his followers become even more determined to find the vampires' Achilles heel and then spread the word to other surviving bands of humans before it's too late.

In his Author's Note, Wilson, explains that Midnight Mass was 'born out of my dissatisfaction with the tortured romantic aesthetes who have been passing lately for vampires' and that 'I wanted to get back to the roots - go retro and write about the soulless, merciless, parasitic creatures we all know and love'. Wilson has indeed presented readers with soulless, merciless creatures. Unfortunately, it's not only his vampires that are soulless. Wilson's protagonists are equally two-dimensional and his plot reads like a bad B movie that offers a stage for just about every vampire cliché ever invented.

As a lone entry in the horror sub-genre, Midnight Mass passes muster. But if you take into consideration the scope and imagination of F. Paul Wilson's entire body of work, then this one's got very little bite.

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