2-minute Review: “Each Man Kills”

A Review Of: Each Man Kills

by Victoria Glad

Rating: 3.0/5

Recommendation: Read it.

* * * 

“Each Man Kills” is listed on Gutenberg as a science fiction story. It’s not. It’s a half-modernized horror story. If you haven’t read Dracula yet, read that instead. It’s also in the public domain, and there’s a reason why it’s a venerable grandpappy of literature.

You’ve read Dracula? You want more of that feeling? Great! You might enjoy “Each Man Kills,” a short story originally published in Weird Tales.

The story has some structural and logical problems. We don’t find out our protagonist’s name until the seventh paragraph, which is disorienting. Setup and payoff is an issue. Giant life events are referenced early on and seem to have no lasting effects on the characters. You could swap the loss of the protagonist’s parents for anything else, and it would serve the same purpose.

For all its problems, this story has a heart. After the setup is complete, we get to the letter. Here’s where we come to the Dracula comparison. The letter tells a vampire story that incorporates some new and creative ideas. Because of the epistolary element and the gothic tone, this part of the story really hearkens to that Dracula feeling. It’s also when the story comes into its own. Did we need everything that came before? Yes. Are there still issues in that letter? Yes. Does it go from the letter into a slightly awkward and miserable conclusion that halfheartedly pays off the title? Yes. But for that brief moment, it’s an entertaining gothic read.