I am a huge fan of Stephen Kozeniewski's writing. Basically, he is a writer who isn't afraid to create entire new worlds with their own mythologies, ideas, and concepts before letting them stand on their own. I recommend BRAINEATER JONES and BILLY AND THE CLONEASAURUS if you want to see some of his other works.
Hunter of the Dead is the story of a world where vampires live in the shadows and are opposed by a secret cabal of hunters. This not-uncommon setting for this world is one which Stephen breathes fresh-life into by making it one of the most grimdark, brutal, and nasty places I've read in fiction. It's easily up there with Mark Lawrence and Richard K. Morgan for a world of interesting but irredeemable characters. Both vampires and hunters.
The premise of the books is the vampires of the world are divided into houses which have nearly unlimited authority to do whatever they want. They kill with impunity across the world and lose all their humanity when they're turned into monsters. The vampire hunters, called Inquisitors, are a bunch of sadistic psychopaths either traumatized by their sights into becoming monsters themselves or simply being that awful to begin with.
The book follows a newly changed vampire named Idi Han (not her real name), an idealistic young vampire hunter named Nico, and his mentor in a crazy old hunter in Pryce. All three of them have deep personality flaws with Idi being insanely overconfident, Nico being all too quick to believe vampires are just people too (especially when hot), and Pryce having thrown away his soul in the fires of his crusade. The three of them become embroiled in a conflict between the vampires of Las Vegas and a mysterious monster called The Hunter of the Dead. All of them are going to attempt to take advantage.
A warning for those who are squeamish, this book is both dark and gory. It's as if someone combined The Evil Dead films, From Dusk Til Dawn, and John Carpenter's Vampires. The vampires causally murder everyone from children to each other in grotesque ways. It's a grand guginol of murder and those who don't like a little splatter with their horror probably won't get as much out of this book as most.
The warning also extends to those who expect anything resembling redeeming features from the protagonists. They are a bunch of complete monsters or those who are on the road to becoming so. This will appeal to as many readers as it pushes away but it's good to get this fact out of the way at the beginning. No one in particularly interested in doing the right thing but just inflicting as much damage on the enemy as possible. This includes, ironically, making deals with the other side to inflict said damage.
I also give this book credit for nicely deconstructing the teenage vampire romance. A pair of starcrossed lovers hook up in this game from both sides of the war then, after some steamy sex, discover that one of them is an inhuman murderous horror with no soul while the other ISN'T a homicidal cannibal. It's such a lovely bit that I had to laugh at the black humor of it. It's like Twilight ending with Edward ripping Bella's throat out in the woods.
My favorite character of the book is undoubtedly Topan. A Malyasian vampire who was once the Golden BoyTM of his house, he's fallen in stature and is soon going to be replaced. He's a slimy, murderous little pervert but I think he deserves to be King of the Vampires more than anyone else in the group. I hope he shows up in the next book because he's too good of a character to die and I loved how he managed to show just how serious the vampires were when they wanted to make a "truce."
In conclusion, Hunter of the Dead is a great novel if you like your urban fantasy jet black and cold-blooded. These are some truly nasty vampires and genuinely distasteful antiheroes but watching them go up against each other is epic.