Friday, June 11, 2010

THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST by Deanna Raybourn

Publisher: Mira
Date published: March 2010
ISBN: 978-0-7783-2765-3
Historical Suspense, Mystery
Reviewed by Gina
Obtained by Library

In the aftermath of her grandfather’s passing, Theodora Lestrange finds herself free to pursue her writing career. When her lifelong friend, Cosmina invites her to attend her wedding, Theodora departs for Transylvania. From the moment she arrives she is entranced by the scenery and the warmth of the people, yet something lurks beneath the surface. People greet her with smiles on their faces, but those smiles don’t quite reach their eyes. The village seems quaint and welcoming, but on closer inspection the edges are frayed. Cosmina’s family welcomes her, offering her old world hospitality. It is Cosmina’s intended, however, that takes hold of her mind and reaches into her soul But before she can sort out these new born emotions, there is a death. No ordinary death, one of the serving girls has the blood drained from her body.

On the heels of the murder Theodora finds herself in the middle of a bizarre and frightening ritual, one the family has apparently enacted before. Repelled and at the same time drawn deeper into the Dragulescu family web, Theodora walks a strange balance of absorption in her book and breaking bounds of proprietary. The villagers tell her tales of men turning to wolves and vampires seeking to drain the blood of the living by night. She tells herself she is a woman of science and learned, yet the evidence before her is that these beings hover in the shadows, waiting only for the chance to venture into the light. But when an attempt is made on Count Dragulescu’s life, Theodora must choose between the safe world she has made for herself and finding his killer.

If anyone had told me Deanna Raybourn could out do her Lady Julia Grey series I would have insisted there was no way that could be. Yet in THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST she opens another dimension of her incredible talent. I’m not a fan of werewolves or vampires, nor am I a fan of first person story telling. All too often the first person point of view becomes more of a boring monologue than an absorbing story. Not so with a Raybourn novel. Carefully researched with rich language and a wealthy vocabulary, she weaves a story that entertains, amazes and enthralls. You are transported to the scenes in the book and feel as if you are one of the characters populating the pages.

Combining legend, folk lore and layers of mystery to be solved, THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST is an outstanding read. Mystery, romance, paranormal overtones against an historical background she adds a heretofore untouched dimension to the Dracula tale. Despite being written in the first person you come away feeling as if you both met and were Theodora. Ms. Raybourn captures the personalities of the other characters, each unique in their own way, through Theodora’s eyes.
If you read only one book this year, THE DEAD TRAVEL FAST should be that book.

This is an objective review and not an endorsement of this book.

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