30 Days of Night
by Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith
(IDW, 2003)

It's a perfectly horrible story.

And it's a perfectly wonderful tale.

30 Days of Night is the brainchild of Steve Niles, who pondered the notion of a town in northern Alaska, where the sun sets for a full month in wintertime. What place would be better for a gathering of vampires, after all? It seems like an obvious idea, but I've never run across it before -- and Niles has certainly given the story its due.

The novel begins on the last day of sunlight, when two police officers in the small town of Barrow find the remains of everyone's cellular phones. Shortly after the last sunset, the communications junction, where all phone calls and computer signals are routed, is destroyed. The people of Barrow have no way to contact the outside world.

And then the vampires stride into town. They are horrible, and hungry.

Niles has crafted a brilliant story from a concept I'm surprised no one has thought of before. It boils with potential, and if anything, Niles' treatment of the story is too short. It seems the idea could have been fleshed out to fill a much longer novel. But maybe not; 30 Days of Night pops with energy as it moves quickly through Barrow's month of darkness. Perhaps a longer tale would have dragged.

Ben Templesmith provides the art that accompanies Niles' vision. It's dark and gloomy, appropriately so. It's ugly, which is also apt for the horror involved. It is, perhaps, too rough-hewn at times -- in some scenes, it's hard to discern what exactly is happening -- but for the most part it suits the tone.

30 Days of Night is a brilliant piece of storytelling, and fans of the vampire genre should certainly add this to their collection. I'll be curious to see how Niles or others run with this idea, now that it's seen the light of day.

- Rambles
written by Tom Knapp
published 9 August 2003

Buy it from Amazon.com.