"I've never read anything so clever and yet so real. The Book of Common Dread is one of those rarer novels you actually believe could be true."
Thomas Monteleone, author of The Blood of the Lamb

"As if The Name of the Rose had been run through the imagination of Gaston Leroux. Brent Monahan has a fine baroque imagination and his tale moves with wit and speed."
Stephen Gallagher, author of Down River.

"Easily the best addition to the vampire genre since Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire." Indianapolis Star

"The sort of well that Umberto Eco tapped The Name of the Rose…Brent Monahan delivers much more than gore."
Atlanta Journal & Constitution.

Click cover to purchase Common Dread

 

This book came about because I just can't buy the vampire myth as it exists. Clearly, the vampire has so much going for it from a psychological standpoint - immortality, mind control, sexuality, dangers of trading bodily fluids, and on and on - so that it will never die as a fictional creature. However, I cannot believe any human would want to go on forever, trapped in a coffin all day, only to suck blood at night and perhaps have a little ice-cold sex. So I reinvented the legend. My vampires are Fausts, who pay on a day-to-day basis for hyper-extended life. They have much more latitude in their behavior and can even choose to age. They must retard the advancement of mankind by killing the few special ones in exchange for a powder they drink that, combined with human blood, greatly retards aging.

The eighteen living vampires are directed by dark angel agents of Lucifer. Their drinking of blood is a direct perversion of the blood of the covenant God made with Moses and with Jesus offering his blood for eternal life. Naturally, a set of ancient scrolls exists that give away this demonic plot, along with an apocalyptic prophesy. The book versions have been ruthlessly hunted down, but an original scroll, awaiting translation, pops up in the Princeton University rare book collection. Vampire Vincent DeVilbiss, former priest, is sent to destroy it; but he finds the place a fortress. He seeks to use a beautiful, mysterious and troubled young female librarian - and the male librarian who loves her from afar - to get to the scrolls.

My "star" vampire is also unique, because he aspires to be human again and slip his infernal chains. Most readers find themselves alternately liking and loathing this more three-dimensional monster.

Fun Facts: The two "Vs" in "Vincent DeVilbiss" are subliminal fangs. The last name can also be looked at as "devil biss": "Biss" in German means "bite."

About a year after this novel came out, I received an out-of-the-blue call from a gentleman with a Deep South accent. He claimed to be calling from New Orleans. He had just finished The Book of Common Dread and said, "It makes Anne Rice's vampire novels look like shee-yit." I begged to differ, saying that we had used the legend for widely divergent reasons (I have spoken with her biographer, Katherine Ramsland, who used to live not too far from me and believe I understand quite clearly the impetus behind Ms. Rice's works). The caller further stated that, "I had to confess how I felt; but I won't tell you who I am, because I'm a close personal friend and I love her parties too much to become persona non grata." Strange. Oh, I've had much wackier unexpected calls than that one! I also had somebody call and claim to be vampire, and said that he wished that vampires really were like I had written.

Cover of the original hard cover edition
Cover of the original paperback edition
 

Critical praise for The Book of Common Dread:

"Here's horror served up in rare style—a real page turner. If chills and thrills are to your taste, then Brent Monahan provides a feast." Robert Bloch

"Along comes an original vampire novel. DeVilbiss is a dandy vampire, and The Book of Common Dread is the most original vampire novel to come along in quite some time." Rocky Mountain News

"Clever, thrilling and, above all, entertaining." Library Journal

"The Book of Common Dread is an uncommonly fun read, scary, fascinating, intelligent, but most of all great fun." Whitley Streiber, author of The Wolfen, The Hunger and Communion

"The Book of Common Dread is well worth the modest investment of time and money required. It is entertaining, it is eminently readable and it holds your attention right to the last page. If it was a girl I'd recommend you marry her." Albedo.com

"The Book of Common Dread - A vampire at Princeton! Do you long for a horror novel full of bookish but lively, intelligent people (no thuggish middlebrows!), and a piano-playing, 500-year-old vampire whose great earthly love is for Bach and a classically beautiful (let's say ideally erotic) woman—a vampire who is himself only semi-mortal (a once-a-week bloodsucker who nonetheless fearlessly wolfs down richly marbled cheeseburgers with deep-fat fried potatoes drowned in ketchup while pitying the early death of others seated about him in an arterially disastrous restaurant), yes, a gent with a gusto for dead languages whose great herbal remedies knock out flu viruses and open your nasal passages so you can float into a good night's sleep and who doesn't believe in talking with the dead, though he fakes it expertly for a living, and so on? Well, after a slippery, slightly banal opening, Monahan (DeathBite, 1979—not reviewed) finds his footing and goes the distance like a seasoned aerialist. Enrapting!" Kirkus Reviews