To Sleep with Evil by Andria Cardarelle is the fourth book in the recently re-released Ravenloft line. This book was first published in September, 1996 and now has a new cover design as Wizards of the Coast seeks to get the Ravenloft line back where it was. The Ravenloft setting has been described as a gothic horror setting that is much darker than either the Forgotten Realms or the Dragonlance setting. I believe, when this book was written, it was the first published book my Ms. Cardalle which is the pen name of author Andria Hayday.
The plot of this book is rather simplistic and linear. It's about a young woman who is betrothed to a man. He desperately wants an heir to his name and holdings. However, as the story progresses more and more is revealed about who he is and who he surrounds himself with. As the young woman discovers these things she seeks a way to keep herself safe. I would like to go more in-depth about this plot, but quite honestly, that's really all there is to the plot. At best the plot is mildly interesting; at its worst it is a slow ponderous foray into a cure for insomnia. It's just not that interesting of a book. It almost seems to me that the author had enough material for a short story and stretched it to fill 308 pages to make a novel.
The characters in this book are mildly interesting at times. However, those times are few and far between. The character Zosia, is the cliché character that supplies information and is all knowing. The character, Lord Donskoy, is the evil leader of a band of ruthless killers. The character Marguerrite, is the clichéd maiden that does her best to survive in challenging circumstances and somehow develops extraordinary skills to discover things and survive where countless others have not. The most interesting character is Ramus, yet he only appears in about 30-40 pages of this book, leaving the rest of the book to flounder through until the next point he surfaces. Simply put the characters in this book are bland and uninteresting. Attentive readers can guess major, and minor, plot points within the first 20 pages and know how the book will end.
After finishing this book, I am still trying to figure out the reason behind Wizards of the Coast re-releasing this book when it so obviously falls short of the mystique of the Ravenloft world. This entire novel seems amateurish in scope and what it accomplishes. Ms. Cardarelle obviously has some talent, her descriptions of scenes were well done, yet in the end the story and characters were just not enough to warrant a full length novel or a place in the halls of Ravenloft. Fans of the Ravenloft world, and for that matter fantasy in general may be best served by skipping this book all together.