Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Stuart Vampire by Andrea Zuvich

Rating: ★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆
Obtained from: Personal Kindle Library
Read: August 9, 2014

Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester, is the youngest brother of King Charles II and James, Duke of York. A handsome, good man, his life ends in 1660 with smallpox... or does it? Obsessed with Henry, Contessa Griselda di Cuorenero - one of the Devil's concubines - turns him into a vampire and plunges him into the world of night. Pacts with the Devil, massacres, plague, fire, witch trials, and the love of a lonely outcast from the sleepy village of Coffin's Bishop have an irrevocable impact on the young vampire. Henry must choose between his humanity and his monstrous, insatiable desire for human blood. From the author of "His Last Mistress," The Stuart Vampire is a gothic tale incorporating the real horrors of mankind in the Early Modern period, natural disaster, and the supernatural world.

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Henry Stuart, Duke of Gloucester
Andrea Zuvich's The Stuart Vampire was one of those titles. When I first stumbled across it, I wasn't convinced it was something I'd enjoy, but the idea stuck with me. I'd circle back to the book from time to time, but it wasn't until last week that I finally threw caution to the wind and picked it up. 

For those who aren't familiar with Zuvich, understand she is a professional historian who specializes in the Late Stuarts of the Seventeenth Century. Why is this important? Well, I hate to point fingers, but few paranormal writers put the same emphasis on historic detail when blending these genres and ultimately, I feel the balance Zuvich created is what sets The Stuart Vampire above similar crossovers.

Is the book perfect? No. I noted the odd typo here and there and I wont deny wanting more from the story in terms of character development, but neither proved a significant deterrent in my overall enjoyment of the story. In point of fact, there is only one aspect of the piece that truly bothered me and that is the artwork. 

Readers really do judge books by their covers and I mean no offense in admitting this, but if I hadn't read this author before, I wouldn't have risked buying the book. The current imagery simply doesn't pique my interest and after finishing the story, I don't think it does justice to the content either. It sounds ridiculous, but I actually spent a lot of time thinking something akin to the promotional material for 2004's The Libertine would make a more accurate and striking impression on potential readers.

An intriguing historical with a darkly gothic twist, I enjoyed The Stuart Vampire and would recommend it to anyone with a taste for period horror. 

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"Oh, I do not know about that! My mother once said I was damned because I was a Protestant and not a Catholic as she. If only she knew what I've become! Then she would truly despair!"
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