Tim Powers – The Stress of Her Regard (1989)

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Readable but overlong fantasy-horror-literary history hybrid featuring lamia/vampires and the cream of Romantic poets–Keats, Shelley, and Byron–interacting a with a fictional character, Michael Crawford, who must also rid himself of the curse and save the twin sister of his murdered wife, Julia/Josephine. Powers’ skill is in seamlessly incorporating real details–Shelley’s drowning, his funeral pyre, the rescuing of his heart, for one example–into a fictional narrative, and deepening the understanding of both novel and history. In the end this was a narrative I wanted to wrap up 100 pages sooner, coming down to a battle to save Josephine and their baby, who might also be a product of the lamia/vampire. The best moments are the ones that little bearing on the plot–a glimpse of a monstrous thing sharing a cargo hold–the least ones the action machinations of the climax. It did make me purchase a book of Shelley poems to counterbalance my adolescent knowledge of Keats.
(BTW, this cover is terrible and looks like a romance novel!)

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