Kirkus Review


The oral history of the bloody beginnings of a worldwide vampire revolt.

This debut novel by attorney Villareal has already been the subject of a six-figure bidding war for film rights—not a surprise, considering that this horror epic takes roughly the same approach to bloodsuckers Max Brooks applied to zombies in World War Z (2006). It starts when CDC virologist Lauren Scott is summoned to Nogales, Arizona, to examine the dead body of a girl named Liza Sole. The soon-undead victim quickly decides to split, but not before Scott gets a sense of her: “Temptation in human form.” Scott quickly finds that her discovery, Nogales organic blood illness, or NOBI, does indeed grant its victims fangs, an aversion to the sun, and a life span up to 300 years. As the NOBI infection spreads, these vampires, now identifying as “Gloamings,” start to aggressively demand equal rights, despite the growing tide of bloodless bodies in the street. The risky process of making a vampire by passing on the virus is dubbed “re-creation” and attracts enthusiasts from Taylor Swift to the pope. Villareal handles his sexy vampires well, giving them interesting abilities and aspects without granting immortality. Elsewhere, the book follows Hugo Zumthor, the FBI agent in charge of the Gloaming Crimes Unit; a radicalized anti-Gloaming Catholic sect; and Joseph Barrera, a slick political operative whose life is upended when he joins the campaign of the first Gloaming candidate for governor. Some of the story’s elements (read: religious conspiracy) may seem derivative, but overall it offers a wide-ranging, readable thrill ride for fans of the genre. While the book fails to match the sociopolitical insights of World War Z, it delivers a spectacularly creepy ecosphere, not to mention some genuinely horrifying frights. Interstitial elements like magazine articles and social media posts help augment Villareal’s ambitious worldbuilding.

The start of a vampire epic and a strong contender in the genus of apocalypse fantasy.

Raymond A. Villareal