Darkly Riveting Historic Vampire Fantasy in Hide Me Among the Graves
I was pleased to see that after a five years hiatus one of my favorite historical vampire fantasy writers has a new book. Tim Powers has always gone the extra mile to make his historical fiction not only accurate for the time he places them, but believable even with the fantasy elements he so adroitly adds into his tales of history. It is perhaps his way of using true historical characters in new ways that introduce us to them as solid people that make the stories ring so true. He must spend years on his research alone. This vampire fantasy tale is no exception.
In this story we return to the world and the concerns of one of his earlier books, The Stress of Her Regard. In that particular vampire fantasy story we met Michael Crawford, a medical student who comes to be involved with the romantic poets of his day Byron, Shelley and Keats and through them to lose his wife through the machinations of a female vampire he becomes entangled in. In Hide Me Among the Graves we meet his son John, a young veterinarian who also becomes involved with a poetic group, this time it is the Pre-Raphaelites Christina Rossetti along with her brother Dante Gabriel and there friend Algernon Swinburne.
The story has a poetic setup that involves Christina and a statue that serves to introduce us to this tales vampire, the undead John Polidori. In reality Polidori is perhaps best known as the author of the seminal tale “The Vampyre” long considered the first published story about vampires and the basis for the story Dracula. In this intro, we see Christina uses her blood on the statue to animate it with Polidori’s spirit, and the consequences of this action reverberate throughout the book. Luckily, for those who want a taste of this tale, the publishers have been kind enough to post the prologue for us to read for free, here.
The story then jumps 20 years, to introduce John Crawford, who first meets his wife to be while mourning the death that day of his wife and children in a bizarre accident. Both Crawford and the prostitute Adelaide are attacked by Polidori’s vampire spirit while crossing a bridge. Their fight for survival ends in an evening of sexual adventure and he learns several years later when Adelaide knocks on his door that this encounter resulted in a daughter. But the undead Polidori has plans for the girl.
While the book focuses on the attempts by John and Adelaide to rescue daughter Johanna from Polidori’s plans, it also introduces a wonderful vampire fantasy creature called Boadicea. She is an ancient undead being from Roman times and is looking for a way to unite her bloodline with Polidori’s, for she believes that it will result in a force that could unleash such power it would shift the very bedrock of London.
To battle this unholy alliance of undead beings, the Rossetti clan involves not only John and Adeleide but also enlist the aid of Edward John Trelawney. This is where things really get fun, for Trelawny is a true historical figure known for being an adventurer and was a contemporary of Shelley and Byron. So here we have Tim Powers taking his characters almost full circle to bring in ghosts from the book before to solve the terrifying undead in Hide Me Among the Graves amazing vampire fantasy adventure. If you love really well written historical vampire fantasy tales, you must not miss this one.