Publisher: Gallery Books
Publication Date: September 18, 2012
Genre: Paranormal Steampunk
In the steampunk world of Victorian London, a beautiful vampire seeks out the author of Dracula–to set the record straight . . . If one is to believe Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire tale, Lucy Weston is Dracula’s most wanton creation, a sexual creature of the night who preys on innocent boys. But the real-life Lucy is nothing like her fictional counterpart—and she demands to know why the Victorian author deliberately lied. With Stoker’s reluctant help, she’s determined to track down the very fiend who transformed her—from the sensual underworld where humans vie to become vampires, to a hidden cell beneath a temple to madness, and finally into the glittering Crystal Palace where death reigns supreme.
Haunted by fragmentary memories of her lost life and love, Lucy must battle her thirst for blood as she struggles to stop a catastrophic war that will doom vampires and humans alike. Ultimately, she must make a choice that illuminates for her—and for us—what it means to be human.
I’ve always loved Dracula movies and books and have read several with alternative views from Lucy in the last couple of years. When I read the synopsis for this, it really grabbed me because it wasn’t so much about Lucy’s relationship with Dracula and it promised an interesting setting. And oh, that gorgeous cover – yeah, that did it too.
Lucy Weston is enjoying the opera, or at least she thinks she is, when a handsome stranger beckons and the opera house falls away. When consciousness returns, she’s buried in a box with a stake in her chest and the knowledge that she’s something else, something that needs blood. Living in her family’s abandoned country home while her memories gradually return, Lucy comes across a novel written by Bram Stoker called Dracula. She’s shocked to read a read a sensationalized, false version of what happened to her in it and vows to go to London to find Stoker and set him straight. She’s hoping she can find the stranger who made her there as well – she has a lot of questions for him.
What she uncovers when she meets Bram is so much more than she expects. There are layers to vampire and human society she never knew about, secret societies and pacts with the government. She uncovers part of the vampire world at a deceptively glittery, dangerous club where she’s searching for the one who made her – a surprising vampire ally, someone purely evil, intent on taking control of the vampire society and an unexpected human she had a past with. She doesn’t remember the details but Marco is familiar to her. When he hears she wants to find her maker, he surprisingly offers to help.
There’s something very unusual about Lucy, something that put this story into the “what the..?” category. It was completely unexpected, original and no, I’m not going to spoil it. But who her maker turns out to be is a shocker and why Lucy is so important that Bram made up the story about her becomes clear. I really loved how inventive the storyline was, even though parts of the explanation were so dense that I thought I might need to take notes for a little bit. Once I had all the various groups, bloodlines and political positions down, it was easy to sit back and just enjoy where the story took me.
The Victorian London setting really came alive for me, the descriptions so lush and picturesque that sometimes they masked the action taking place and things felt a little slow when they really weren’t. There was a nice sense of danger for the entire book and a little bit of bloody gore that I’d have been disappointed without. While this is advertised as steampunk, it’s on the light side, with the gadgetry just appearing as background elements that aren’t particularly remarked upon by the characters. I thought it was perfect, the rest of the story was busy enough, but it still added some fun contrast.
I loved Lucy with all of her vulnerabilities, questions and convictions. She wasn’t any typical super-confident kick-butt vampire heroine. Having never been taught anything, she had no idea what she could do, how to feed or even if this was the life she wanted to keep. She missed people, missed her memories yet she really wasn’t sure life would be better if she went back. Behind all of it though was her dedication to doing the right thing even if it was scary. Her relationship with Marco was nice and very slow to develop romantically, even if I could see where it was going. Their past was muddled and their current situation was definitely messy. I wouldn’t call this a romance, per se. You can see that they have affection building and that he’s protective of her but there are problems for them beyond the human/vampire issue.
My Summary: This is beautifully written and a few times, the abundance of words gets in the way of the action for a moment or two. It doesn’t make the story less imaginative, the characters less interesting or the setting less inviting though and if there’s a sequel (crossing my fingers), I’ll be right there.
My Rating: A-