The Art of Darkness

Tim Powers Tackles Victorian Vampires

April 18th, 2012 by Cobwebs

Book CoverI’ve mentioned Tim Powers’ books previously, including the excellent vampiric “secret history” The Stress of Her Regard. Stress follows Michael Crawford, a man who unwittingly proposed marriage to a lamia, across Europe as he tries to free himself from his bloodthirsty bride. He encounters a number of Romantic poets and authors–Byron, Keats, Shelley, and Polidori amongst them–and discovers that lamia can act as artistic muses…for a price.

Powers wrote a postscript to that novel called A Time to Cast Away Stones, which can be found collected in The Bible Repairman and Other Stories (there’s a free excerpt at Tor). In it, Edward Trelawny schemes to remake the connection between humans and monsters, hoping to use his alliance to free Greece from the Turks.

Now Powers has released a true sequel entitled Hide Me Among the Graves, in which the vampires have returned. Set in Victorian London, veterinarian John Crawford sets out to save his young daughter from the attentions of a vampiric wraith, eventually joining forces with the Rossettis (poet Christina and painter Dante), who are the unwilling students of a supernatural muse.

One of the things that makes Powers’ “secret histories” so engaging is the deftness with which he weaves the fiction into actual events. He is quoted as saying, “I made it an ironclad rule that I could not change or disregard any of the recorded facts, nor rearrange any days of the calendar – and then I tried to figure out what momentous but unrecorded fact could explain them all.” So all of the deaths, wars, disasters, and other historical events in his novels are accurate…and then he takes you behind the scenes to see the hidden supernatural machinations which “caused” them.

Great stuff; highly recommended. I’m thrilled that there’s another chapter in this particular corner of Powers’ universe.

(via BoingBoing)

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