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The Stress of Her Regard
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
on 26 August 2012
This highly acclaimed 1989 novel by Tim Powers has been re-released as a "prequel" to the recently published Hide Me Among the Graves. Having read and generally enjoyed "Graves" I was eager to see for myself what the fuss was all about regarding the first book.

It is lengthy at over 500 pages, but, I can happily report, it was well worth it. With the original premise of following the poets Byron, Keats and Shelley and blending their exploits with fiction, Powers has pulled a master-stroke in the genre of horror/fantasy.

This Gothic novel is descriptive, atmospheric, gripping, gory, chilling and utterly compulsive. Unlike its sequel, the characters here are exciting and charismatic. You really feel for the main character of Michael Crawford and the terrible predicament he finds himself in.

A story that has vampires, nephelim, living statues and a supernatural curse as the reasons for literary greatness gets my vote! This is about enjoying talent, but at a great personal cost.

Lyrical, ambitious, sprawling and epic, "The Stress of Her Regard" sees horrific events taking place against the backdrop of some of the most beautiful and picturesque parts of Europe: a neat juxtaposition.
This is about outcasts living in forced exile in Europe, being stalked by ancient mythical creatures. Frantic and fast-paced, the desperation leaps off the page.

Its only faults are some anachronisms: English and Irish 19th century poets would not use American slang and terms of phrase for example, exclaiming "Goddamit!" repeatedly. Also, they would not describe autumn as "the fall."

Nonetheless, this is an excellent novel and fully deserves the plaudits it already has, and it should enjoy new fans and a wider readership this second time around.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 11 November 2002
"The Stress of Her Regard" is a marvelous and well-researched work of historic fantasy based on the lives of several of the great Romantic poets (Keats, Byron, Shelley). Their muses are real, but they are no kindly Greek goddesses. They are obsessive and jealous supernatural creatures that have co-existed with humans for centuries, inspiring but untimately destroying their lovers/victims. Michael Crawford, the novel's hero, attempts to uncover the history of these vampire-like beings in an effort to find a way to free himself and others from their grasp. "The Stress of Her Regard" is a thrilling work that manages to be both intellectual and action-packed.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 14 June 2007
A dark book about a man who inadvertently `marries' a statue - and a rather jealous one at that!

While not quite on a par with "On Stranger Tides" (but then, what is?) this is still a good read and with all the usual Powers' descriptive excellence and the mixing of fictional characters with historical ones. It starts off atmospheric and eerie enough but doesn't seem to keep up that level of gothic horror. Also, although there's humour and some well-drawn characters, it's not as memorable as "The Anubis Gates".

All the same, it's another solid offering from Powers and better by far than all those `sucking up ghosts' novels he went on to write.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 19 January 2013
The idea behind this book, famous figures from history dealing with supernatural creatures is clever and the creatures themselves are well developed and supported by a range of historical links that make them seem plausible.

Where this book falters is in the execution. The story takes ages to get going and rather dumps the reader in the middle of things without really explaining what's going on or what all the strange terms bandied about mean. The book is further spoiled by the complete unlikeableness of the historic poets (Byron, Shelley & Keats) and the ineffectiveness of the lead character, Michael Crawford, who never really drives the plot, merely tags along behind one or other the poets.

The book does pick up in the final third but still moves at a somewhat glacial pace as Crawford and various poets traipse back and forth across Italy.

If you're into your romantic poets then you might get more of a kick out of this book, but I won't be coming back to this book anytime soon.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 19 November 1999
A book that seems to use as it's basis that soom of the last centuries darker poetry, was a fanciful version of the truth. Well written, absorbing, but in many ways original, it ties together many legends with great ease. For many pages i felt as confused as the main character, and needed to find the answers. I ended up reading it all in one sitting and at 500+ pages, that took a while. But well worth the time
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Michael Crawford is on his way to get married. During a drunken evening with his friends he places the wedding ring on the finger of a statue, which he later finds he is unable to get back as the statue seems to have somehow closed her fist. On the wedding night, his wife Julia is brutally murdered and he finds that he is accused of the crime and has to flee to try to prove his innocence. Somehow, Crawford finds himself in London, working alongside Keats in a hospital. Julia's sister, the odd and mechanical Josephine, is pursuing him, but the statue he has inadvertently 'married' is protecting him.

This is a story of vampires, the supernatural and Crawford's attempt to free himself from events which threaten to overtake him. He finds himself caught up with Byron and Shelley, whose fates are also touched by these creatures. We travel from the Alps, the stronghold of the old gods, to an ancient king who has achieved immortality at a terrible price. As events spiral out of control, Byron, Shelley and Crawford realise they must save themselves in order to save their children. Interesting novel, with good cameo appearances by real historical characters, who include Mary Shelley and Polidori, amongst others.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 10 February 2013
An alternative view of the lives of the romantic poets. A vampire fantasy that fits beautifully with the facts that are known about the extraordinary lives of Keats, Byron and Shelley. It is compulsive reading and the European setting is well drawn. There is one aspect of the book that stops me giving it 5 stars and instantly broke the spell that was cast by the otherwise well written narrative. Every now and again (actually, quite frequently in places)one of the very British poets would come out with some very American word or phrase that was completely incongruous. This book really should be overhauled by a British editor because this issue really blights an otherwise excellent book.
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on 8 December 2014
Interesting take on the muses, and the byronic. Very well-written, and to my mind, his best.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 3 June 2008
A wonderful book about the younger Romantic poets with an ingenious "what really happened behind the scenes" twist.
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on 23 March 2015
Another great offering from a talented author.
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