A teenage girl is kidnapped by a house of vampires in the South Korean capital of Seoul. But not all the vampires are on the same side, and two rogue vampires hatch a plan to rescue her. This is Butchers, a novella by Todd Sullivan, that does not hold back on bloody details. Reviewed by Steve Rogerson.
Book Review: Butchers by Todd Sullivan
Steve Rogerson reviews Todd Sullivan’s Butchers, a bloody vampire novella set in South Korea
This novella tells the story of Sey-Mi, a teenage girl who is brought into a hive of vampires in Seoul. She is given no choice about being turned and is subject to horrific torture to make sure she understands the consequences of not obeying the rules of the Gwanlyo, the name of the local vampire organisation. Gwanlyo is the Korean word for bureaucracy, and this Gwanlyo tightly controls how vampires behave in their interactions with humans.
The situation is complicated by Cheol Yu, a vampire in love with Sey-Mi and who wants to rescue her from the clutches of the Gwanylo, and Hyeri, a rogue vampire who likes killing and torturing humans too much to follow the Gwanlyo’s rules.
Is Butchers any good?
Well, yes and no. It is only 83 pages long and thus a short read and good for a touch of escapism into this bloody world. My main problem with it was that it read a bit like a report into the events that happened rather than a story. Everything was chronological and everything that happened was revealed as it happened; no letting the readers work things out for themselves. I also felt the characters in the story were a little one dimensional. We never really got into their heads in the way I would have liked.
I also felt there was a missed opportunity during Sey-Mi’s torture. We should have been in there with her, feeling what she did, feeling her despair, sharing her memories of a world she now believed was gone forever. We should have experienced her growing hatred for torturer Dae Lo. That way we could really have got to know her and felt more attached to the story.
That said, I felt it worth the time I devoted to it. It raced on at a cracking pace and was thus a bit of a page turner.
About Todd Sullivan
Todd Sullivan teaches English as a second language, and English literature and writing in Asia. He has had numerous short stories, novelettes and novellas published across several countries, including Thailand, the UK, Australia, the USA and Canada. He is a practitioner of the sword-fighting martial arts, kumdo/kendo, and has trained in fencing (foil), Muay Thai, Capoeira, Wing Chun and JKD. He graduated from Queens College with a master of fine arts in creative writing, and received a bachelor of arts in English from Georgia State University. He attended the Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference and the National Book Foundation Summer Writing Camps. He currently lives in Taipei, Taiwan, and looks forward to studying Mandarin.
Butchers (ISBN 978-1733548274, 83 pages) was published in 2019 by Nightmare Press. Cover art was by Holly Wholahan.
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Steve Rogerson, Thank you for the practical informations and product lines.
Can it not be possible that the chronological unfurling of events mirrors the way bureaucratic minds can operate? My favorite authors of novels and short stories with bureaucratic contexts remain Ismail Kadare (The File on H) and Georgi Markov, and both utilized such a revelation of events.
Is it possible that vampires can be a bit one-dimensional since their lives basically are all about blood?