Suicide Reviews: The Light at the End by John Skipp & Craig Spector

the light at the end

Date Published: February 1, 1986

Published By: Bantam

Number of Pages: 385

Rating: 3.5/5

Ten murders on the New York City subway – all horrible, no two alike. The tabloids cry ‘Subway Psycho’ and the cops search for a serial killer. But they’re both wrong – because what they’re looking for isn’t even human.

Only a handful of people know the truth about the creature stalking Manhattan’s cavernous underground…a creature with an uncontrollable thirst for blood and domination. 

Worst of all, they know that his kind has ruled the night for centuries, and that down in the tunnels, the night lasts forever. 

You know those old-school horror novels from the 80s? The ones chockfull of gut-churning gore, explicit sex (and rape) scenes, the ones that are over-the-top and slightly ridiculous? The Light at the End definitely belongs to that category – which makes it an incredibly fun read.

The main premise of this book is that there is a vampire terrorizing the New York subway system and a group of strangers, who start out only being loosely connected to each other, band together to Thwart Evil and Save the Day. (As you do.)

First off, I love that the story is set in New York City – a sleazy, grimy, gritty type of New York. It’s the perfect setting for vampires to lurk in the shadows and wreak havoc on an unsuspecting public. And the fact that the vampire hunts in the infamous subway system only intensifies the creepy atmosphere.

The vampire in question is not your typical refined, cultured vampire. He’s actually a bit of a punk. Think of your average douchebag – entitled, arrogant, misogynistic and, deep down, incredibly insecure. Now give that asshole vampire powers and voila – you have this novel’s villain. His name is Rudy Pasko and as soon as he’s turned into a vampire, he gets it into his head that he is going to go on a killing spree, make a ton of undead slaves, and eventually rule as some sort of vampire king. I hate this guy with the fire of a thousand suns so it only makes it that much more satisfying when he meets his inevitable demise.

So with Mr. Asshole Vampire going on a feeding frenzy, there’s guts and gore aplenty in this book. It probably won’t faze a lot of modern-day horror fans who have built up an immunity to that sort of thing thanks to films like Saw and Hostel. There’s a couple of parts that may cause a slight squirm or a wrinkled nose but, all in all, it’s nothing too shocking.

Except for one specific scene. I don’t want to go into too much detail because spoilers but while I was reading it, I kept thinking ‘No. There’s no way they’re actually going to do that. They’re not actually going to have a scene where-‘

And then it happened. And it was one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve ever read in a horror novel. I’m still not sure how I feel about it but I must give kudos to the authors for going there.

Like I said – it’s a fun read.

One of the things that tickled me about this book were some of the bizarre metaphors and similes the authors used. For example: ‘The voice was a train. A long cold train. Upon him now.’ Or, my personal favorite: ‘Stephen was as silent as a stuffed moose head on a wall.’

Don’t get me wrong, I love these creative sentences. Some a lot better than others but there were a few (like the ones above) that tilted toward the absurd.

The Light at the End is a lot of things: violent, gruesome, ridiculous, slightly campy and, in some parts, extremely distasteful. But it is never boring. If you’re a horror fan with a craving for a bloody romp through the New York subway system, you might want to give The Light at the End a try.






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