Review: “Enter, Night,” Michael Rowe

Pros: Intriguing vampire story
Cons: Ends oddly; strange balance of details
Rating: 3 out of 5

Michael Rowe’s vampire novel Enter, Night is intriguing, but it has a bizarre structure that didn’t entirely work for me. Parr’s Landing is a tiny little Canadian mining town in the middle of nowhere. A mysterious man who hears a voice in his head is headed there, slaughtering people all along the way. Meanwhile, Christina Parr, her 15-year-old daughter Morgan, and her brother-in-law Jeremy are all heading back to Parr’s Landing from Toronto. Jack Parr, Christina’s husband, has died, leaving Chris and Morgan penniless. They’re forced to return to Jack’s mother, who is an absolute hag of a woman but who’s willing to financially support her granddaughter. As the Parrs try to eke out some sort of peace in the town that’s named after their family, an unholy evil comes to town.

One of the weird things is that sometimes Rowe puts a lot of detail into characters that ultimately do not matter to the plot. It’s confusing and sometimes frustrating. There’s an entire sequence that starts the book that felt almost irrelevant to the rest of it, like a separate novella written as a prequel to a novel.

The characters have a fair amount of depth to them. Jeremy is gay, which caused his mother to have him institutionalized when he was a teenager (the current story takes place in 1972, so this was quite a while ago)–the only thing she cared about was the scandal of it. Morgan is trying to navigate her own reaction to her grandmother (whom she’s never met before) and the way her grandmother is treating her mother and uncle. Her grandmother thinks Chris is a slut and a whore because she became pregnant with Jack’s child before they got married (and because Chris was of much lower social station than Jack). One of my favorite characters in here is Billy, or Dr. William Lightning, an anthropology professor and Native American who runs into some trouble with the police when he tries to warn them that he thinks a crazy, and deadly, man is headed their way. He and Chris make a connection. I also liked Finn, a 12-year-old neighbor who’s the first to figure out what’s really going on in town. Morgan, Billy, and Finn do a lot to make the story interesting.

Unfortunately, there are other things that didn’t work for me. The end of Chris and Morgan’s part of the story leaves so many things unresolved, and thus feels incomplete. Then there’s another section that feels like, again, a separate novella, again a prequel but set 300 years earlier, when the vampires first attacked this area. The story is interesting, but it doesn’t fill in the holes left in the main tale. It ends up feeling like there are two novellas and a novel in this book, and the novel isn’t exactly complete.

Content note for explicit sexual content (m/f and m/m), gore, and a whole LOT of anti-Native American bigotry. I know virtually nothing about the relevant groups of Natives, so I can’t say whether the depiction of them is at all on-point. But the man who narrates the final section of the book certainly thinks of the Natives purely as Savages, and while I’m sure that’s accurate to the time, it doesn’t make for enjoyable reading, and it definitely lends itself to stereotyping.

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