Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Book reviews: Shadow of Night and Hide Me Among the Graves

Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers

Putting aside Powers' weird commentary on the Church of England (he's a devout Catholic, so he probably sees the church as deficient in a number of areas), the author here creates a story that's less complicated than Declare, Three Days to Never or Last Call. This story pins vampires on a couple of European gods whom Christianity displaced; they instead try to break back into reality by entrapping citizens of 19th century London. One particular family seems doomed to be at the mercy of these gods -- the Rossettis. The younger daughter of the Rossettis is ensnared by the ghost of her dead uncle, John Polidori, and years later she enlists the help of her family as well as a veterinarian and his mysterious lover to rid the world of this curse. Powers mixes such historical figures as the painter and poet Dante Rossetti and the poet Swinburne to give the novel a strong dose of secret history; in fact, the novel reaches back to Roman Britain and uncovers labyrinths beneath the streets. This novel is perfectly engaging, even if I'm a tad tired of vampires. (Chunkster challenge, European challenge)

This novel continues the series Harkness started with A Discovery of Witches. Here the witch Diana Bishop and her vampire lover Matthew Clairmont hide in Elizabethan England and elsewhere in 16th century Europe, where they meet a whole cast of historical figures, including the mercurial Christopher Marlowe, Sir Philip Sydney's sister and even Shakespeare. Witchcraft and alchemy are all the rage, and Matthew must struggle to fit into these earlier times, as just about everybody thinks he's the 16th century version rather than the 21st. Like Hide Me, the novel represents a merger of the vampire and secret-history genres. The plot and the historical details are great, but Harkness still shows some signs of the fact she's more historian than novelist -- particularly in her peculiar pacing. Still, the characters are quite strong; Diana discovers a lot about herself on this pilgrimage, and I'm sure fans will be awaiting the concluding volume. (Chunkster challenge, European challenge)

1 comment:

Irene Jennings said...

Really, that pretty much sums it up. Nowhere near as compelling as "The Stress of Her Regard", which it seems to be following in the footsteps of, this book just doesn't thrill. Fans should wait for paperback.

Irene (Link to DFW Cold Laser Therapy For Knees Dr Alexandria Schnee)