"We must search among the graves" (spoiler),
This review is from: Hide Me Among the Graves (Paperback)
Oh, Tim Powers. No other author could write so convincingly of fishy ghosts in the Thames, zombie kids and ethereal vampires stalking the Pre-Raphaelites.
For that is exactly what happens in "Hide Me Among The Graves," a distant sequel to Powers' classic "The Stress of Her Regard." This is a horror novel for people with a love of art and philosophy, entwined with grey mist, childhood nightmares and countless quotes of classic poetry -- as well as beloved poets and writers for both villains and heroes.
The Rossetti family has been haunted by the vampiric presence of their uncle, John Polidori, for countless years. But in 1862, Gabriel and his sister Christina begin to suspect that Gabriel's drug-addled wife Lizzie is being preyed on by not only Polidori, but another vampire. Meanwhile, John Crawford is contacted by an ex-prostitute named Adeleide McKee, with whom he once had a brief affair -- and, she now reveals, a daughter named Johanna.
So now McKee, Crawford and the Rossettis must join forces to save the souls of their loved ones -- to save Johanna from Polidori's clutches, and Lizzie from being enslaved as another vampire. When Lizzie dies unexpectedly, they have an opportunity to shatter Polidori's power.
Fast forward seven years. Both Gabriel and Crawford are shocked when their lost loved ones turn up in their homes -- one living, and one undead. Polidori's power has been shattered, but he's determined to regain it by using Christina's blood. Now the odd bunch must reunite before Polidori and his ancient queen use Johanna for their own ends, which could literally tear Britain apart.
"Hide Me Among the Graves" is a vampire novel for people who are literate, intelligent and intrigued by the arts (unlike books like "Twilight"). The book not only has famed poets and artists peppering its pages, but you can feel Powers' love for classic art and poetry seeping through the pages. It doesn't hurt that Powers writes like a poet, with lushly atmospheric prose that clings to you like gossamer-soft spiderwebs.
It's also scary. Really scary. Only a thin grey veil separates the humdrum world of London from the river of fishlike ghosts ("their arms waving like a moonlit kelp forest on the sea floor"), zombie fetii and ghostly vampires, and the people who see beyond that veil are changed forever. And his vampires are truly scary -- they can possess corpses, and they're violently jealous of the people they have claimed.
Powers also excels at taking real-life figures -- Swinbourne, Trelawny, the Rossettis -- and turning them into rich, well-rounded characters. Christina is a particularly compelling character: a devoutly religious woman who is constantly tempted by the dark side (specifically, her attraction to Polidori. Vampire incest?). Gabriel is also fascinating, as an artist tormented by his love for his self-destructing, delusional wife.
And the supporting characters -- the cold-as-ice Trelawny, the strong-willed ex-hooker Adelaide, and the fragile Crawford -- are just as well-rounded, fictional or non-fictional. It's a testament to Powers' skills that he can so easily interweave fact and fiction, giving supernatural explanations for real-life events like Siddal's death or Christina's rejection of her suitors.
"Hide Me Among The Graves" is a must-read for the literate vampire fan -- it's beautifully written, richly-characterized... and scary enough to keep you up at night.