An Audio Drama by Travis Beacham for Audible
With hundreds of years of vampire fiction produced, you’d think the well has gone fairly dry on novel takes on that particular flavor of horror. In many ways, you’d be 100% correct considering the absolute garbage that gets released from time to time. Occasionally something cool comes out that is just that much different that it is somehow refreshing. I felt that way with Underworld, the 2003 Vampire action film that tried it’s hand at making vampires cool again and HBO’s True Blood some ten years later. While Impact Winter by Travis Beacham doesn’t try to remake the wheel by any means, it takes vampires into the realm of something like The Walking Dead, and succeeds at being very good.
“It’s the near future and seven years since a comet hit the earth and blotted out the sun. The world is a dark, frozen landscape. And then, beastly creatures emerge and take over. Can they really be vampires? In the British countryside, a band of survivors forms a resistance in the fallout shelter of a medieval castle. Darcy is a battle-tested vampire hunter who is at the front line leading the charge to save humanity. Meanwhile, her younger sister Hope wants life to return normal so she can go above ground and know what it’s like to live again. And she just might be willing to risk it all.”
In a similar way to I am Legend or The Omega Man, Impact Winter applies the vampire mythos to a post-apocalyptic setting. Avoiding cliches like a viral event, this full-cast audio drama goes buck-wild on a story involving a comet that crashes into The Earth blotting out The Sun just enough to allow for a secretive race of vampires to literally crawl out of the shadows and retake their old stomping grounds. We join a group of survivors, well after this event, trying to cope with a life of being barricaded in a stronghold, only exiting for supplies and to fend of vampire attacks.
Most vampires in this world are animalistic revenant-like creatures that have lost their humanity entirely due to not being able to handle their bloodlust. Terrifyingly, we see these creatures as children most of the time making it pretty unsettling. There are other types of vampires kicking it around including some that are basically humans in appearance, and others that have immense power and act as a noble ruling class. This is how this story handles all of the aristocratic vampire stuff we see in most vampire stories.
The story doesn’t really dwell on the how’s and why’s of vampires here, with a lot being merely hinted at. I got the distinct impression that there’s an almost cosmic or magical nature to the creatures – perhaps even alien. They do hold onto some of the typical tropes like an aversion to light and a thirst for human blood, but otherwise they are not your typical crucifix hating, garlic avoiding cape wearing dudes trying to seduce every woman in sight. What we do have are the personal interactions of a group of survivors trying to cling to life in a hostile world. things we take for granted, like adolescent rights of passage or even a world without having to train in martial combat to fight are alien to these people, making their world that much more bleak.
Darcy is your badass sword wielding heroine here that is determined to ward off all vampires that even consider looking in her direction. That is…until she becomes one. Trying to hold onto both worlds, she gets dragged into a huge conspiracy of an internal struggle for the vampire race and a possible way to end the icy apocalypse. The acting is very well done, and all of the actors provide great performances. The cast is easy to like, and you find yourself getting emotionally attached to some of the characters as it goes on. My only issue was that there are occasional sound mixing issues where the effects and other noises can overpower the voices in tense action scenes. Perhaps, this is the fault of my car since I listened to this mostly on my work commute, but I am not certain.
Overall, I am very interested to see this drama continue as it ends on a fairly large cliffhanger. The story could end where it is, but it’s obviously written as an audio drama designed for multiple seasons, so we shall see. If you are on Audible or are considering looking into a subscription, I have found these “Audible Originals” to be quite a solid reason to sign up. Being a big audio drama fan means I am always looking for things like my beloved Big Finish audio adventures, and stories like this or The Blood on Satan’s Claw have been great.