Review: Earth Thirst

Posted: February 12, 2013 by in Books We Like (4/5 single_star) Meta: Mark Teppo, Urban Fantasy

Vampires? Vampires! Grab the stakes and garlic, this sub-genre isn’t dead yet. Don’t mind me, I kid. Vampires are never going away and Mark Teppo’s EARTH THIRST (Amazon)┬árejuvenates a tired concept. Teppo’s vampires are of the crunchy granola, tree hugging variety. Don’t confuse the Arcadians for hippies though, the stewards of the Earth come heavily armed.

The Earth is dying. Mankind poisons the soil and pollutes the air. The Arcadians, vampire stewards, are fighting a losing battle against hyper-industrialization. Silas is a soldier, he follows orders – even when those orders lead him onto the open seas with a group of protestors trying to save the whales. Things quickly go awry and Silas finds himself cut off from support and running for his immortal life. Now he will have to get to the bottom of a mystery that could destroy everything he loves.

Teppo’s greatest feat with EARTH THIRST is his creation of eco-friendly vampires. I’m no fan of bloodsuckers and I’m no environmentalist (though I see the benefit of recycling) so it comes as a surprise that I like EARTH THIRST. The Arcadians have two methods of survival, 1) returning to the pure soil of Mother Earth, and 2) consuming blood. These vampires are more natural┬áthan supernatural. Smog and defoliant are anathema to the Arcadians, not crucifixes and garlic. In the context of the novel this is all entirely rational. It makes more sense than any other fictional explanation for vampires that I’ve ever read. It’s fitting. It’s refreshing.

Silas is the teeth and claws of Arcardia. He is a soldier of the Grove, but EARTH THIRST thrusts him into the role of detective. He is accustomed to taking orders, not piecing out puzzles and it shows. He is a direct, take action sort of guy and he realizes that if he is going to save Mother he will have to work outside his comfort zone and rely on Mere, an investigative journalist. Like most good thrillers, our protagonist lacks external support. He is “rootless,” left to die a slow death by succumbing to man-made toxins.

I found Mere to be less compelling than Silas. Her skills as an investigative journalist come into play occasionally but she frequently felt like a mandatory romantic interest and a liability. These two characters soak up all the development, the villains and ancillary cast fall flat. Phoebe, another Arcadian, seems cool but she doesn’t get the attention she likely deserves. The villains are typical enough and their henchmen serve as little more than cannon fodder.

EARTH THIRST is a different breed of Urban Fantasy. It's not perfect, but isn't a refreshing take on a well-worn concept.

Clues fall into place steadily, and plot development is interspersed with heavy action. The action is fast and furious. Silas has had 3,000 years to hone his craft and Arcadians can soak up loads of punishment before dying. The pacing is relentless, carrying Silas and Mere across exotic locales in search of pieces to the puzzle. Silas suffers from amnesia, a trope that would generally throw me into a fit of rage. Here the amnesia serves as a facet of the story rather than impeding progress.

EARTH THIRST is a different breed of Urban Fantasy, much like the Arcadians are a different breed of vampire. In truth it is closer to an eco-thriller, detective novel. It’s not perfect but it is a refreshing take on a well-worn concept and I suspect that there are more Arcadian novels to come.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: Present but not over-the-top
  • Violence: There's a decapitation with a manhole cover so...yeah
  • Sex: Physical encounters, nothing too graphic

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