Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Review: The Dead Travel Fast, by Deanna Raybourn

Original date of publication: 2010
My edition: 2010 (Mira)
Why I decided to read: I’m a fan of the author’s Lady Julia Grey series
How I acquired my copy: ARC from the publicist

Theodora Lestrange is a budding author who receives an invitation from her friend, Cosmina, to stay in her fiancee’s castle in Transylvania. Seeing this as the perfect opportunity to gain inspiration for the novel she’s always wanted to write, Theodora goes to Transylvania—and finds herself immediately attracted to the castle’s owner, count Andrei Dragulescu.

I’m not quite as fond of this novel as I am of Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey series, and I’ll tell you why. Theodora Lestrange is a pale copy of Lady Julia, I’m afraid, unrestrainedly modern and not quite as interesting. There’s not quite the same amount of wittiness that Lady Julia gave us time after time. There are also a lot of discrepancies in her character, especially when it came to her friendship with Cosmina.

I can’t help but compare this romance to the one between Lady Julia and Brisbane in Raybourn’s Silent series. I think the problem lies in the fact that, whereas the Lady Julia-Brisbane romance had time to evolve over a few novels, here the romance aspect simply seems rushed, and based more upon physical chemistry rather than emotional or mental (how many times are we told about how physically attractive the count is?). We’re told over and over that there’s a mental connection, but I’d rather see it firsthand.

I loved the premise of the book, and I wish that there had been more of the supernatural in it. Theodora is the ultimate skeptic, I know, but I would have liked to have seen more vampires, werewolves, strigoi, or whatever. This book had the potential to be extremely scary, but I thought it fell down in that aspect. Also (and this is a minor point but it annoyed me all the same), the author is very selective about the British spellings she uses (why "faery", for example, and not "mediaeval?").

Deanna Raybourn is a talented writer, and she knows her Victorian period extremely well. She’s obviously put a lot of time and energy into the research and writing of this book, but I for one can’t wait until she returns to the Lady Julia Grey series. If you’re a newcomer to Deanna Rayboun’s novels, this is probably not the place to start.


Meghan said...

Well, that's disappointing! I love the Julia Grey books, though, so I suspect I will give this a try anyway.

Meghan @ Medieval Bookworm

Hannah Stoneham said...

Thank you for sharing this candid and interesting review. I too like Julia Grey... but I might give this a miss...

Danielle said...

Too bad this sounds a little disappointing. I just got it in the mail, so will definitely read it, but luckily still have the last Lday Julia novel still on my pile to read (something to look forward to).

Marg said...

I'm enough of a fan of Deanna Raybourn to give this one ago, but I will do so with slightly lower expectations now.


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