“There was a fortune teller, a Gypsy at Cronulla, south of Sydney,” said Frank. “It’s a beach suburb. She told my fortune. Did she come from here?”
“Did she have a German accent?” asked Gilda.
“No,” said Martha.
“Her ancestors might still have come from here,” Gilda told them. “They may have known about that day at Cronulla and so made preparations for it.”
“Unbelievable!” cried William.
“That is Worms for you,” stated Gilda. “Let us move on to the main building and to the dagger we house in your ancestor’s honor.”
The sun had set and a moon not quite full was on the rise. Frank shivered and so did William, Evans, and Broom. They watched Frank as they climbed stone steps that had been laid back in medieval times and had been worn smooth with the constant traffic they had endured.
The dagger was kept on the second floor amid other relics of the middle ages. Past scrolls that dealt with the Diet Council and the various Holy Roman emperors there was a glass case. In it was a woodcut showing Sir Siegfried’s battle with the sorcerer. There was also a box lined in red velvet that had at one stage housed something precious.
“Where’s the dagger?” asked Frank.
“It’s gone!” exclaimed Gilda after looking in the case for it. “I must inform the curator at once!”
“No need,” a voice came from seemingly nowhere. Out from behind a support pillar stepped Hercule Morgan. He had the dagger in one hand and a revolver in the other.
“Now all I need is my lycanthrope, my werewolf and I’ll be off,” said Hercule.
“Drop the gun,” a voice came from the shadows. It had an Italian accent. From behind a neighboring pillar to Hercule’s right appeared a monk with a pistol.
“The New Inquisition,” said Broom. “Right on time, too. I didn’t think the Archbishop of Worms would leave the matter of the return of the Burkhards alone.”
Then from a third and a fourth pillar appeared men in gray suits carrying Uzi machine guns.
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NEIL K. HENDERSON (author of An English Summer in Scotland & Other Unlikely Events)
Knightswood, Glasgow, Scotland
GHOST DANCE by Rod Marsden, ISBN 978-0-9826795-2-4 Night to Dawn Books, P.O. Box 643, Abington, PA 19001, USA (www.bloodredshadow.com)
The second novel in Rod Marsden’s Australia-based vampire series sees his “Secret Compass” organization once more at odds with the forces of the undead, and once again the battle is not so simple as straightforward good-versus-evil. Petra, the chief vampire involved, is a more sympathetic character than her “all-vampires-must-die (again)” antagonists. And going by David L. Transue’s gorgeous full-colour cover, a damn sight better looking, too like a young Joanna Lumley in pre-blonde days. Petra was a Vamp in her pre-vampire days, and is still a bit of a swinger in 1975, the setting of the tale. She might be a threat to the well-being of humanity (though she tries not to kill when she feeds), but you can’t help liking her.
But there’s more to it than that. Vampires there are, and other wandering spirits, but just to up the ante, there’s now a twenty-one year old newly-turned lycanthrope, Frank, and a warlock, Hercule Morgan, needing vampire and werewolf blood for his experiment to reduce world population (not in the nicest way). Just to speed things along he has a golem slave made from clay with ruby eyes. This Hercule’s little grey cells are more than a little deranged.
Not to be outdone, the forces for good or at least mortality are augmented in Ghost Dance by Gypsy fortune tellers, gun-toting monks from the Vatican’s New Inquisition (less incendiary than the Old Inquisition) and a branch of the Secret Compass from Knightswood, Scotland (the same north-west district of Glasgow where I am sitting now, writing this review, and once Knights Templar land). And the posse comes armed with all manner of anti-vampire weaponry such as Bram Stoker never dreamt of. At one point, operatives are kitted out with devices by a posh London colleague, in a scene reminiscent of James Bond being primed by “Q.”
These are the ingredients in a plot which readers must unravel for themselves. This story is set in the year immediately preceding events in the earlier novel, Disco Evil: Dead Man’s Stand, which contains a lot more background to the Secret Compass. However, Ghost Dance stands perfectly well on its own, no further reading required for its enjoyment and is consequently faster-paced than its predecessor.
As with Disco Evil, this novel has a “both-sides-to-the-story” aspect which leaves one inevitably unable to take sides. As in life, no one is either all good or all bad; though, as the title indicates, there is a remorseless sense of destiny involved. Also as in life, actions can have long-lasting consequences, especially where “the supernatural is an extension of the natural and always has been.”
Inventive, colourful, thought-provoking, and above all fun; you’ve got to read Ghost Dance by Rod Marsden while you have the chance. After all, you’re a long time dead.
There’s Trouble Down Under” Review by Dellani Oakes
Hercule Gibbs Morgan is a sorcerer. Evil doesn’t begin to describe him. He uses the blood of the innocent to keep himself young. It is his desire to harness great power and rid the world of the plague of inhabitants’ humans. To do this, he needs a werewolf because no other being has the necessary power in its blood.
Frank Burkhard is a werewolf. His family has lived with this secret for generations. Cursed for the deeds of an ancestor, Frank has just experienced his first transformation. When he escapes from the stronghold of his parents’ home, his family is kidnapped. It’s up to Frank to find and rescue them, but he can’t do it alone. He and his parents must complete a quest to break Frank’s curse.
Petra Card is a vampire. She’s stalked the night since the 1920’s. Coming across Frank in a nightclub, she finds a source of energy that assuages her hunger far longer than a mere human’s. For that reason, and the dreams she’s having, she decides to follow Frank and help him where she can.
Two organizations exist to keep the world safe from supernatural trouble, The Secret Compass and The Rising Sun Group.
Helen Kiln works for The Secret Compass. She uses her psychic abilities to find vampires, werewolves, etc. In a vision, she is warned that Frank Burkhard needs her help. Since he hasn’t killed humans or done anything evil, she agrees to help him.
Danny Broom and Mike Evans are Secret Compass agents sent to aid Frank and his parents in their quest.
Ghost Dance is an interesting blend of fantasy, action and mystery. I found myself caught up in the tale as it blazed through Australia, England, France, Italy and Germany. Ghost Dance explores the question: If the world faced a great enough evil, who would protect us? Author Rod Marsden answers that question well.
I recommend Ghost Dance to anyone who likes a good action story, a cunning mystery or lives to gobble up any story with werewolves and vampires.
**Warning** These vampires don’t sparkle. Five Golden Acorns