Saturday, July 20, 2013

The Stress of Her Regard, by Tim Powers

Publisher: Tachyon
427 pages
Source: My collection

Description: When Michael Crawford discovers his bride brutally murdered in their wedding bed, he is forced to flee not only to prove his innocence, but to avoid the deadly embrace of a vampire who has claimed him as her true bridegroom. Joining forces with Byron, Keats, and Shelley in a desperate journey that crisscrosses Europe, Crawford desperately seeks his freedom from this vengeful lover who haunts his dreams and will not rest until she destroys all that he cherishes. (from Goodreads.)

Review: In some ways, this is not your typical vampire story. In other ways it is.

The vampires, or Lamia, or Nephilim, have both typical western vampire traits as well as very non-typical ones, like being made of stone. They are fairly original, as literary vampires go, but their powers seemed like a bit of mish-mash and I felt the author tried a bit to hard to incorporate a few too many mythological elements. Mostly it worked, but I'm still not entirely sure why they ran into the Sphinx at one point. It felt out of place, and the change he made to the riddle and it's answer felt a bit forced to me.

As far as I can tell, the author didn't change too much of history, but I'm far from an expert on the history of these people or Italian politics of the era. The most notable thing to me, was there being no mention of Polidori's The Vampyre. Given Polidori's fate in this book and the subject of the plot, the lack of mention, plus a comment about Polidori not writing anything of note, seem like odd choices. (And between this book and Rises the Night, it rather sucks to be John Polidori in a vampire novel.)

Why most of these characters choose to be semi-willing victims of vampires is explained much better in this book than it is in most, since along with other effects, these vampires act as muses, leading one character to go back after ridding himself of them, because he wants to be able to write poetry again.

There were times that I felt this book could have moved a bit faster, but overall the pacing was good and the mixture of explicit horror with moments of more quiet horror was something I wished more books would do.

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