When Daniel Findlay opts to spend six months living among Boston's homeless to research for his book on these unfortunates and raise awareness of their plight, little does he realise just how fundamentally his view of the world is about to alter. Daniel witnesses the building of a cult within the ranks of the homeless before narrowly escaping with his sanity intact. Only the cult is not yet done with him ...
With The Vagrants, Brian Moreland infuses his homeless antagonists with considerable creepiness. There are numerous scenes were Daniel is confronted by vagrants who seem to only want some change or a bite to eat, but when close enough, impart a hissed message of nastiness. These are effective enough, but even better are other scenes when large numbers of these people silently mass and begin closing in on their prey. These moments worked exceptionally well for me; as did scenes with the vagrants' mysterious and charismatic leader, Mordecai.
Moreland also opts to throw elements of Boston's criminal network into the mix, providing some much needed fodder for the vagrants and whatever it is that they are hiding. The ending pits these two groups against one another to good effect, with Daniel caught between the two factions.
The pacing is swift and the writing is simple but effective. The novella suffers from a few "developing author mistakes", however, including a tendency to repeat already-established information too often (such as the name of Daniel's girlfriend, and the fact that she is his girlfriend the first three times she appears). I was also a bit torn on the resolution of the story, which while suggesting there could be a sequel in the works, seemed to leave things a little too conveniently open for my tastes.
Regardless, there is much to like about The Vagrants, and it serves as the latest calling card of an up and comer in the horror genre who seems destined to make a considerable name for himself.
3.5 Realistic Murals for The Vagrants.