30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow
by Steve Niles, Ben Templesmith
(IDW, 2004)

Brian Kitka comes to Barrow, site of the great vampire slaughter just a few years back, to find out once and for all what happened to his brother. After all, vampires aren't real, right? And, because this is a horror story and horrors require innocent lives in jeopardy, Kitka brings his young son along for the ride.

Barrow, for those who missed the earlier story, is a north Alaskan town where the sun disappears each winter for 30 long days. A group of vampires, rightly realizing that a month of uninterrupted darkness means a smorgasbord of tasty civilians, march on the town and feast heartily. By one count, only 19 of the town's winter population of 462 survived by massacre's end.

The obvious questions are, why would the vampires keep returning each year to the same feeding ground? Why did those 19 residents stay, and why did the people rebuild the town, knowing they were on the menu each winter?

The current population isn't mentioned, but the town when Kitka arrives has certainly grown quite a bit since the slaughter. And the poor townsfolk have scrounged up the funds for an impressive array of barbed-wire barricades, watchtowers, ultraviolet lights and heavy weapons. Wouldn't it have made more sense simply to move somewhere sunnier?

OK, let's move on from there. Writer Steve Niles isn't dealing with logic here, he's writing a vampire yarn.

30 Days of Night: Return to Barrow is entertaining in exactly the same way that 30 Days of Night and its first sequel, Dark Days, were. The vampires are horrible and evil and gluttonous and messy, and the people are desperate and terrified and sometimes surprisingly resourceful and strong. There is a lot of blood, and it's all drawn in Ben Templesmith's demented style that perfectly suits the tone of the book. It's fun and intense and adds nothing new to the series. I hate to say it, but I guessed the end before I even picked up the book.

I enjoyed Return to Barrow, but I'd only recommend it to someone who had already read and enjoyed the first two books in the series.

As a side note, I thoroughly enjoyed a review on Amazon.com that completely deconstructed the book based on Niles' scanty knowledge of the real Barrow. For fiction's sake, I suppose the major inaccuracies make for better storytelling, but if the author didn't like the town, he probably should have made one up.

by Tom Knapp
9 September 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.