The Last Sunrise by Martin Shannon
I'm a fan of vampires and werewolves. I don't think anyone questions that. If you do, Exile is a thing and you can click the link at the top of this page to see what that is about.
Ann Rice. Richelle Mead, LJ Smith, I'm a fan. Twilight... well we'll just have to pretend that was
never a thing because those are some hours of my life I would definitely love to get back. I'm also not ashamed to say that Vampire the Masquerade was even a part of my Larp life back in college.
The fact is, like a great dinosaur or dragon story, I'm always chomping at the bit for one to dive into. Luckily, during my time as a horror author on the fringes of the genre delving into internet horror, I have had the opportunity to come across Martin Shannon. From Marty's First Look on YouTube (some of them are here in the blog and I really need to get on that again) to being an integral part of supporting the horror Vella genre on Twitter, I am more than happy to say that not only is Marty an amazing friend, but a also a talented writer.
While I could tell you the reasons why I love The Last Sunrise, some could say that my perceptions of this Vampire story are colored by the working relationship I have with Marty in the genre. I will tell you that I adore this Vella and because of the respect I have for this author and his work, I may or may not have sought out Zombie Phreak for assistance in reviewing so that you can get an unbiased perspective.
Hopefully after this review, you'll understand why #FangsOutFriday is one of my favorite things!
Like we do almost always, we're going to get started:
Let's get to it!
So… a very good friend of mine suggested I check this story out.
As I am writing this article, there are fifteen episodes out in this series and I have finished all of them, so keep that in mind as you read this review. If something cool happens past episode 15… sorry, but I don’t have a Delorian and some Plutonium. I have to wait for the regular passage of time like the rest of the world does.
First of all, let’s get this out of the way immediately. I have to admit that I am not the biggest fan of the vampire genre. Heck, just by looking at my name you can tell I am at the most at home when I am amongst the ranks of the shambling hordes of the restless dead that crave human flesh. However I will admit that I did have my brief love affair with vampires in the late 90’s to early 2000’s with the RPG Vampire: The Masquerade, and the Blade movie trilogy. So I can tell you that I am not a complete outsider to this genre.
Now right off the bat, the first thing I absolutely LOVE about this story, is how the author humanizes Mallory. Her motivation is clear and relatable, her driving goal is to protect, and cure her brother of the horrible curse of being a vampire. And anyone can identify with that. We all love our families and would move mountains to help them. And because of this, I am totally invested in Mallory’s character. I want her to succeed and make a better life for her brother.
Another thing I love about this story is how descriptive the author is. I really like how Mallory compares the bar that she is outside of at the beginning of the story to other bars she worked in over the years when she was still a human. She makes it clear that she could easily see herself working there, but it was also terrible to work at. Tipsy guys trying to touch her, bad body odor always in the air, cheap beer spilled on the bar, messes to clean up after last call, etc. This is one skill that I love when authors have, they can build an atmosphere so perfectly that you can easily picture the location in your mind’s eye.
And with what this author did, I can easily picture this crappy bar in my mind. And that made the first 5 chapters perfect for me. I could easily see myself there and watching the events there unfold.
Moving along to the vampires themselves, these creatures seem to have some unusual facial features. Their faces open up like bird wings, and they have “stingers” in their throats that can act like a second tongue. These stingers shoot out and embed themselves in their victims’ bodies to drain their blood. (Think like the second mouth that the Xenomorphs have in the Aliens movies except there is a vicious pointed barb at the end). I gotta say, this is unusual, but… pretty damn cool! The way the author describes this facial appendage, I can almost see the sharp, jagged ridges on it in my mind, and feel the slightly hooked claw at the end, just aching to pierce the flesh of their prey and sink into the veins that hold the precious blood that these creatures so desperately crave.
Next on my list of things I enjoyed about this story is that the author does an amazing job describing not only the physical locations in the story, but the little things that help you to put yourself in these scenarios. Like when it is described how the sunlight burns these vampires if they are exposed to it. It’s so vivid that it almost feels like your own flesh is burning. I love how they describe the skin blistering, crackling and bubbling as the sun unleashes it’s wrath on the flesh of these damned creatures. And the way that Mallory is forced to take refuge in that outside freezer next to the bar until the sun sets is just perfect! Outside we know that her brother is in danger and she is desperate to go find him, but the walls of the freezer are the only things protecting her from the sun’s deadly rays. Those walls that are protecting her might as well be her prison as she sits there, waiting for the sun to set so she can race out and find her brother… This was just perfectly done! I loved it!
And you wanna talk about how well this author can describe a scene? Let’s talk about the church that Mallory and her new protege take refuge in. It’s so perfectly described that I can picture the structure’s peeling paint and the windows that have been covered up with newspapers from years, possibly decades ago. I can easily see the creaking pews, the spider webs hanging from the ceiling, and the dust motes in the air. The settings in this book are just masterfully done and I love reading about them almost as much as I enjoy reading about the characters.
Now most of the characters in this story are minor characters compared to Mallory, but let’s face it, she is the most interesting and she has the best motivation. However this new vampire that she has created and calls her “son,” has piqued my interest too, and I am sure we will find out more about him as time goes on.
Another thing that I really enjoy about this series is the vampires’ abilities. Most vampires you read about in other works of fiction or you see on the big screen, have all these amazing powers. They can summon armies of bats to do their bidding, they can use telepathy to communicate across continents, or they can detect hidden people by feeling psychic vibrations in the aether, etc. However, here we simply have vampires that can hit harder, run faster and take more damage than a regular human, but even then they admit that a shotgun blast to the chest will still hurt like hell and slow them down. That to me makes them believable. After all, I’m here to immerse myself in the story, I’m not playing a Final Fantasy video game.
Also, I like when Mallory basically spells it out for the people who are hunting her and says, “Look, I didn’t ask for this. I didn’t want to become like this, this was done to me and my brother against our will. I just want to find my him and be on my way.” This, again is very believable. I mean would you really want this? Would you really want to spend your life hiding from the sun for fear of being killed by the slightest bit of light from our closest star hitting your exposed skin? Sure there are other works of fiction that shall remain nameless where the lead female protagonist walks around for like three books with a bland look on her face as she stares at her equally bland looking boyfriend. Then after what seems like forever she becomes a vampire and this “horrible curse” gives her eternal life, youth, sex appeal and seemingly endless wealth. So again, it’s not too much of a stretch, and it makes the story more enjoyable.
All in all, this is a really good story! The chapters are not too long, but they are just long enough to tell the story and keep you hungry for more. If you like horror, or vampires, or just need something to pass the time with a character you can relate to, I highly recommend it.
Check it out!
Don't want to take our word for? Check out these reviews for The Last Sunrise from Amazon!
Kitty: What was your favorite book growing up? Has that changed as an adult?
Marty: Wow. That’s a great question. I went through so many as a kid. In fact, that was the thing I spent the most money on growing up. I got a job working at the hometown book store just for the discount! When I was younger I was a big fan of fantasy. I cut my teeth on Dragonlance, reading and re-reading “Chronicles” and “Legends” far too many times. From there, I read a ton of RA Salvatore, and got hooked on the Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time. My tastes changed when I reached the angsty teenage years, where I dove into Koontz, Gaiman, and Barker. I recall Imajica with great fondness, and “Odd Thomas” will forever be my brother from another mother. I think if I had to pick a favorite I would be hard pressed. Let’s just say I pick up “The Thief of Always” time and again and struggle to remember to put it back down.
ZP: Is there a particular horror writer that inspired you to go into the horror genre? Marty: Great question! Yes, although I would say it came by committee. Koontz, Barker, Gaiman, King, and Del Torro/Hogan showed me the way.
Koontz helped me see that horror could have great heroes, aka Odd Thomas.
Barker reminded me that true horror forces us to accept loss, may it be the lost of childhood, or something far worse.
Gaiman taught me whimsy and fantasy could paint even the darkest night in mystical colors.
King gave me my short, staccato style.
And Del Torro/Hogan? Well, The Strain showed me exactly the sort of vampires I wanted.
Kitty: Who is your favorite author?
That’s a tough one to answer, but I would say for pure skill and story weaving talent, I would be hard pressed to select someone better than Neil Gaiman.
Kitty: Have these books or authors influenced your writing style?
Marty: Yes! Although I would say what did the most was studying the old masters, Lester Dent and the pulp writers of the 20s and 30s. I’m not reading them for prose, as their style doesn’t fit our world today, but I read them for pacing, for excitement, for how to craft a tale the pulls the reader in and doesn’t let go.
There’s a method to that madness and for the last seven years I’ve been honing it daily.
Kitty: What drew you to writing about vampires?
Marty: Mal (the protagonist from The Last Sunrise)showed up one morning and threatened to beat me up if I didn’t tell her story!
Seriously, I wanted to tell a vampire story that cut closer to the bone. I wanted to show the addiction, the constant struggle with making the wrong choices and trying to rationalize some future punishment for the sins of today. It’s something uniquely human, and what makes vampires so interesting to write about. We all have something we do that maybe we shouldn’t. Mal’s just happens to be drinking blood.
ZP: Vampires exist in your work, will we ever see other horror or super natural creatures in The Last Sunrise?
Marty: I hate to say never, but right now I don’t think so. The magic of The Last Sunrise is the grittiness of it. These vampires don’t sparkle. In addition, the story is really so wrapped up in Mal’s head that she’s got enough challenges to contend with without adding a wider supernatural world.
But... that’s not to say there aren’t a LOT more Martin stories out there that touch on things beyond Mal and the world of The Last Sunrise.
Kitty: Do you have a favorite serial that you would like to recommend to other authors?
Marty: It’s a little on the nose, but there’s a horror podcaster that I work with who has a “nature of evil” sort of serial series called “Mortis Maledictum” that I would certainly recommend. I’ve done an episode for him and it’s a lot of fun.
It’s very Twilight Zone/Black Mirror meets cosmic horror.
Kitty: How do you feel about Kindle Vella? If there was one thing you could change about it, what would it be?
Marty: Kindle Vella has been an interesting experience. They’ve done a number of things right, and a few that make you scratch your head. Of the things I’d love to see, chief among them is more interaction! That’s something the other serial sites really excel at. It would be great to do the same thing with Vella. I’d love to know the scenes people liked, the episodes that struck their fancy. It’s a shame that it’s still far too hard for the reader to reach the author in Vella, but one can always hope for more in the future.
Kitty: Do you have plans for serial fiction outside of Kindle Vella?
Marty: es! I’m glad you asked. I’ve been publishing books for a number of years, in fact, I have forty-three (43) publications on Amazon. However, right now, I’m moving toward more episodic releases and putting things up on my new personal fiction site: www.BloodAndPulp.com
As of right now basic membership is free and has twelve episodes spread across four stories already posted: “Ley Lines and Losers”, “The Soul Eaters”, “Skinned”, “Coils”
There’s a lot more on the way for 2022 and beyond, so if you liked The Last Sunrise and want to explore more of Martin’s rapid-fire imagination, check out www.BloodAndPulp.com!
Kitty: If you could go back in time and tell yourself anything about becoming a writer and your writing career, what would it be?
Marty: I’d tell him to take a deep breath. I’d say you’re going to write, edit, and sweat over close to two million words before your ship comes in. I’d tell him that he shouldn’t lose heart, that it gets better, and that all that writing every morning is going to one day pay off.
I’d probably show him a picture of the Top Horror stories on Kindle Vella and The Last Sunrise. I’d tell him that he might cry a little when he sees it for the first time and that’s okay.
“Listen, Marty. You can do this. I know you can. Just take a deep breath and keep writing. Don’t get down. Don’t get disappointed. Keep typing on those keys. Keep making up stories. Keep caring. I believe in you.”
Kitty: Finally, if you could tell your readers anything about yourself, what would it be?
Marty: I’m a banjo guy. For other banjo peeps that might come across this interview, I’ve been playing clawhammer banjo for a number of years. Huge fan of “porch music” and anything Steve Martin does. I play a Deering open back and with the dog most evenings.
He’s not much of a banjo player, but he growls at the raccoons.
I’m also a recreational artist, having rediscovered art in my salt and pepper years thanks to Procreate and the iPad. I did the cover for The Last Sunrise, as well as just about all the images on BloodAndPulp.com. It’s something fun to do and is just another part of being creative.
The way I see it, be creative, life’s too short for boring.
His Amazon Author Page contains over 40 books waiting for your enjoyment.
We'll be wrapping up our review of Steele Heart this weekend and moving on to two other amazing serials on our list which include Divine Counseling by Nikolai Wisekal and something a little spicier, What Bad Men Do by Halston Hughes.
There are a lot of amazing stories coming through the pipeline and as always I'm incredibly excited to share them with you and occasionally bring Zombie Phreak along for the ride. In addition to reviews, November saw an incredible influx of review and developmental editing requests. There will be a few TikTok videos coming regarding that topic. For example: What does a Dev Editor do and just how long does it take one such editor to get that work done? The other important question, especially this time of year after NaNoWriMo to ask and have answered is: How long in advance should I start shopping for editors? And how far in advance should I book an editor?
We also saw sixteen episodes between The Explorers and Exile to Kindle Vella with twenty-four planned in the month of December. I probably don't have to tell you that Zombie Phreak and I will both be pretty busy! Keep in mind that the week of the thirteenth there may not be a review. Mr Wizard and I are taking a week of vacation. A whole week! No coding and no reviews! Though I may be recording an interview that week while we're away.
For now, I hope you've enjoyed this review of The Last Sunrise and look forward to sharing Steele Hearts, Divine Counseling and What Bad men do in the next week or two.
Have an amazing week and may your adventures be exciting and plentiful!