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Sunday, July 3, 2022

Vampire: The Masquerade – Walk Among Us

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Vampire: The Masquerade, the ground-breaking roleplaying game of personal horror, is no stranger to tie-in fiction.  Indeed, the Clan Novel Saga and Clan Brujah trilogy, which chronicled the ongoing conflicts between the Camarilla and the Sabbat, were used to progress the in-game storyline.  However, since 2004, there has been no new fiction, and certainly no audiobooks.  That is, until now.

Walk Among Us is an audiobook containing a series of novellas.  Rather than offering an exploration of the warring factions of the political machinations between vampire elders, Walk Among Us acts as an introduction to the kindred.  We are presented with a series of stories, exploring different stages of vampiric existence.

In Genevieve Gornichec‘s A Sheep Among Wolves, performed by Erika Ishii (Annabelle in LA By Night), depression and radicalisation go hand-in-hand as a young woman finds companionship in the darkness.  As well as Gornichec’s fair representation of mental health, Ishii’s portrayal of the timid Clear and the sarcastic gamer girl Jade were particularly impressive.

In Cassandra Khaw‘s Fine Print, performed by Neil Kaplan, an arrogant tech entrepreneur learns the importance of reading the fine print when offered a contract for immortality.  It would be easy to feel unsympathetic towards the protagonist, were it not for the vestiges of humanity that Khaw and Kaplan bring to the character.

And in Caitlin Starling‘s The Land of Milk and Honey, performed by Xe Sands, ideals and ethics bump heads with appetite on a blood farm.  In many ways, this is the closest to the previous World of Darkness novels, as the protagonist is one of the kindred, rather than of someone who is encountering them for the first time.  Starling and Sands subtly articulate the conflicting natures within Leigh.

Rather than a series of interlinked tales – such as the previous novels – each is a standalone tale.  These three, very different, stories all have one thing in common: the hunger never stops, and for someone to experience power, others will feel pain.

As well as the amazing storytelling, what stands out is the exceptional voice casting.  Each narrator brings their vocal skills to bear, creating a diverse cast of characters that remain uniquely identifiable, expressing the emotion of each character without coming across as banal or trite.

The stories in Walk Among Us are firmly influenced by V5 (the fifth, and latest, edition of Vampire: The Masquerade), and so they should be.  These are tales for today’s Vampire: The Masquerade, and with modern sensibilities.  These stories reflect contemporary life and the tonal shift in the latest Vampire: The Masquerade.  This is Vampire at street-level, with recognisable characters that we could potentially meet anywhere.  As such, new and existing players will find a lot to like in this audiobook novella.

If you are looking for a horror audiobook, or would simply like an introduction to the game, then I cannot recommend Walk Among Us enough.

Peter Ray Allison
Peter Ray Allisonhttp://www.peterallison.net
Science Fiction: the final frontier. These are the articles of the freelance journalist Peter Ray Allison. His continuing mission: to explore strange new realms of fiction, to seek out new genres and new visions of the future, to boldly geek where no one has geeked before.

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Vampire: The Masquerade - Walk Among UsVampire: The Masquerade, the ground-breaking roleplaying game of personal horror, is no stranger to tie-in fiction.  Indeed, the Clan Novel Saga and Clan Brujah trilogy, which chronicled the ongoing conflicts between the Camarilla and the Sabbat, were used to progress the in-game storyline.  However,...