Paperback, 180 pages
Published 2012 by Twelfth Planet Press
Greetings Brave Adventurers,
“I haven’t read much horror, but I’ll definitely have to read your stuff,” I gushed when I met Jason Nahrung at the Aurealis Awards in Sydney, early in 2013. Jason had two novels in the final for “Best Horror Novel 2012”; Salvage and Blood and Dust.
As I began to read Salvage, I realized that I had a short memory; flashbacks to a misspent youth reading Stephen King began to surface. There’s this particular skill that seems to be the domain of horror writers, a way that they can build a seemingly ‘normal’ world, yet still manage to leave the reader’s stomach churning uncomfortably, knowing that something dark lurks in the shadows, awaiting the unsuspecting protagonist, just a few pages on. Nahrung has this gift.
The novella follows Melanie, as she and her husband Richard retreat to an isolated Queensland island. Their marriage is foundering, caused by the loss of their unborn child and Richard’s inability to prioritise Melanie over his work. When Melanie meets Helena she is drawn in to her sensual world, only to find that Helena is escaping her own dark past.
Any novel that deals with vampires will, unfortunately, be compared to a certain teen phenomenon. Nahrung’s vampires are an older breed, harking back to the sexual sensuality of Bram Stoker, where lust and attraction are not simply based on a six-pack and a GQ magazine stature. There is sex and there is violence in this novella, there is bleakness and blood.
Nahrung’s beautiful depiction of the Australian seaside, bled of all colour, is a deliciously gothic backdrop to a story that ended all too soon. Not because it was too short, but just because I wanted more. Darn, Jason. Now I’m going to have to add another dozen books of this genre to my already tottering ‘to read’ pile, Blood and Dust at the top.
9 out of 10 brooding dragons
Do check out Jason Nahrung’s blog here.