Maberry opens this collection with college professor turned advising consultant Luther Swann and reporter Yuki Nitobe, but then moves onto other colorful characters as he alternates his chapters with those of his guest authors, who usually provide a two-part story. It is an efficient and effective narrative structure that solicits an exploration of the chaotic and tension-ridden society by a myriad of authorial perspectives. This line up mirrors the variety of vampires, based on ethnic folklore, so readers are treated to upierczy, eretica, chupacabra, and dakhanavar-type vampires, amongst a host of others in Maberry's world. For instance, Hank Schwaeble's “The Low Man” intertwines the Pacific Northwest Tlinget folklore into an engrossing tale about destiny and the concept of free will. It is one of the many strengths lent from engaging many authors to expand this IP universe.
Many essays in this collection explore the impact of the disintegration of the familial unit when some members are turned into vampires, causing irreparable rifts that often lead to death. It is a tragic theme that drives many of the characters to opposing sides of the moral spectrum. Examples include the stories about vamp dad Marko Kovac hunted by his son Matthew Kovac (“Absence of Light” by Larry Correia), or unresolved sibling rivalry between human John Lei and his vamp sister Anna (“Family Ties” by James A. Moore). In the two-part “Lost Love” by John Everson, the author adds a layer of complexity to Mila, who struggles being turned by her sister into a wurdulac (vampires that can only feed on loved ones) by hunting and killing vampires.
Spiraling out, the V-Wars are tearing the tenuous fabric of society and reveal the ever-present attitude of hatred, an ugly and ruinous mindset that builds walls and isolates the “other” as unworthy of basic rights and life itself. “The Monster Inside” by Scott Nicholson opens with a small-town America sheriff facing an armed group with mob mentality as he tries to maintain peace between the town's citizens and a church of Native American vampires. Nicholson touches on violent historical themes – vigilante lynch mobs and the ill treatment of Native Americans, citing the Trail of Tears of the Cherokees – drawing poignant parallels from American history.
It is not all doom and gloom; there are a few humorous pauses in Night Terrors. Readers are introduced to Hydra (not her real name) who is nearly indestructible and is a wannabe superhero in “Heroes Don't Wear Spandex” Parts 1 and 4 by Maberry. One cannot help but chuckle as Hydra goes looking for trouble posing as a victim and then as a masked hero and being unsuccessful in either method. Maberry also penned “A Day in the Life” Part 8 in which Gus tries to comfort his vampire daughter, Brianna, that the mundane life event of having braces does not spell the end of her world. Just as that crisis is resolved, Gus finds himself in another teenage minefield and the verbal repartee begins all over again.
This is a shortlist of the several other fascinating themes presented by Maberry and his guest authors. While it would be helpful to have prior knowledge of V-Wars, at least from the standpoint of knowing how Swann and Nitobe fit in the overarching story, it is not a prerequisite for this volume of stories. The myriad of blood-sucking entities exposes readers to creatures of lore that are often maligned for the stereotypical vampire (There are no sparkling vamps in this book.), which should interest readers. Coupled with prejudices arising from the concept of “other” along with other societal issues should supply readers with thought-provoking, multi-layered stories that transcend the sheer entertainment value of this collection of essays.