Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Hide Me Among the Graves

Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers
ARC provided by William Morrow
Description from Goodreads:
Winter, 1862. A malevolent spirit roams the cold and gloomy streets of Victorian London, the vampiric ghost of John Polidori, the onetime physician of the mad, bad and dangerous Romantic poet Lord Byron. Polidori is also the supernatural muse to his niece and nephew, poet Christina Rossetti and her artist brother Dante Gabriel.

But Polidori's taste for debauchery has grown excessive. He is determined to possess the life and soul of an innocent young girl, the daughter of a veterinarian and a reformed prostitute he once haunted. And he has resurrected Dante's dead wife, transforming her into a horrifying vampire. The Rossettis know the time has come – Polidori must be stopped. Joining forces with the girl's unlikely parents, they are plunged into a supernatural London underworld whose existence they never suspected.

These Wildly mismatched allies – a strait-laced animal doctor, and ex-prostitute, a poet, a painter, and even the Artful Dodger-like young daughter – must ultimately choose between the banality and constraints of human life and the unholy immortality that Polidori offers. Sweeping from high society to grimy slums, elegant West End salons to pre-Roman catacombs beneath St. Paul's cathedral, Hide Me Among The Graves blends the historical and the supernatural in a dazzling, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride.

My take:
First of all, I cannot believe that I missed the book that came before this one! How did I miss a vampire book with Shelley and Byron?? I will be fixing this situation immediately. Hide Me Among the Graves takes place after The Stress of Her Regard which introduces Polidori and the original storyline involving the Romantic poets.

Hide Me Among the Graves takes up with Polidori's story once his ghost/vampire shows up in the Rossetti household. For a literature geek like me, this book made me giddy with excitement. Any book that makes me want to do research is going to get a rave review.  I am pretty familiar with the Romantic poets, less so with the Rossettis. But when Edward John Trelawny's name popped up and he became an important character, I had to stop and go back to my Shelley (both Percy and Mary) texts and make sure I was thinking of the right person.  I thought the way Powers blends actual history with his fiction plot works amazingly well.

I thought the storyline involving the Rossettis was very well done and interesting on its own, but the real excitement involved Crawford, the veterinarian, and Adelaide McKee, the former prostitute and of course, Trelawny.

The story is dark and convoluted and absolutely wonderful. I loved every minute of it. I didn't mind the time lapses at all. I absolutely loved the idea of Polidori being the vampire even though the vampire story he wrote over that infamous summer with Byron and Shelley seemed to use Byron as the model for his vampire. I also loved the link between the vampire as muse and the resulting improvement in writing or art. There is so much in this book that I would love to analyze, but that isn't really appropriate for this blog.

This is a dark, haunting story and went in directions I would never have thought of in a million years. It has ghosts that are unlike any I've encountered anywhere else and vampires that are strangely familiar yet still very different. There are some other creatures that I can't really explain and have to be discovered by the reader. While I wouldn't say this book is for everyone, I loved it and would recommend it for readers who love literature and vampires and especially love Shelley, Byron and the Rossettis.

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