Note that this review was posted in November of 2010, meaning that Emily has an excellent memory. Anyway, she was wondering if I'd be interested in reviewing their latest book in this series - Vampires: a Hunter's Guide by Steve White and Mark Mckenzie-Ray. Naturally, I was very interested. So, a few days later, I received a copy of the book in the post and was absolutely overjoyed.
The easiest way to tell you what this book is about is to quote the blurb from the back cover.
"For centuries, vampires have lurked in the shadows, preying upon the weak and defenceless. It is only thanks to a group of dedicated and powerful hunters that the vampire threat has remained largely suppressed and evidence of their existence confined to the whispers of myth and folklore. However, with world population centres booming, the vampires have found new hunting grounds in which to hide their activities and build their underground empires. Covens across the world have grown powerful. It is now only a matter of time before they step into the light and begin their war on humanity.
Vampires: a Hunter's Guide contains all the information necessary to recognise and combat this growing threat.After an exploration into the origins of these undead creatures, it examines the numerous vampire species and subspecies that exist around the world today, placing particular emphasis on the role of the vampire hunter in combating the rise of the undead throughout the centuries. Focusing on the hunters' weapons, tactics and skill sets, this book provides information on identifying and eliminating vampires, noting the best practices from hunters from around the world. With full-colour illustrations of predator and prey, this is the ultimate resource in the fight to save humanity from the vampires."
As with Zombies: a Hunter's Guide, this book works on the premise that vampires do exist and are at large in the world around us. Its tone is serious and I have nothing against that. The bulk of the book details the "facts" about vampires from five continents - Europe, North America, Africa, Asia and South America. The most prominent vampires from each continent are respectively, the Strigoi, the native American Wendigo (more myth than a reality), but more likely European vampire immigrants, the Asanbosam (a monkey-like hybrid), the Jiangshi (pronounced ching-shee) aka the hopping vampire, and finally the Chupacabra, aka the goat-sucker. Sub-species include dhampires, incubi and succubi, amongst others.
The vampire hunters collectively work for an organisation called Special Action Unit (SAU, pronounced "SAW") who are a covert branch of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO). These small groups of highly skilled agents operate across the globe in a hidden war against the vampire menace. Their tactics have evolved from many centuries of study of vampire hunters to give them the best chance to deal with the growing rise of vampires in the modern world.
Anyone looking for a suitable background for a vampire hunting campaign set in contemporary times will find this book very useful. I could easily see it working best with a GURPS Horror campaign or with THW's After The Horsemen setting (with a little tweaking). To the casual reader it is an interesting read but hardly essential. To a vampire fan like myself, it is very much a "must have" book. I know that I got my copy for free, but I'd have happily paid for it.
My major criticism of the book is exactly the same as my criticism of Zombies: a Hunter's Guide, and that is that at 80 pages it only scratches the surface of the subject. I'm sure that a longer book could have covered more vampire types and mentioned a lot more on SAU weapons and tactics. It is nicely illustrated with a combination of black and white photos and drawings and some exceptional full colour illustrations.
Vampires: a Hunter's Guide costs £10.99 or $17.99 from Osprey Adventure Books. I give it a 7 out of 10 rating. I did enjoy it but I wish it had been a lot longer.