Friday, April 5, 2013

Seance for a Vampire by Fred Saberhagen

This book is the eighth in the Dracula series by Saberhagen. I think I'd read it once before, but never did a review; the only one of the series I've reviewed here is The Dracula Tape, I believe. For the most part the series is quite enjoyable, though I think when he tried to unite the Dracula and Sherlock Holmes mythic worlds (is the plural of mythos mythi?), he stretched things a little far, and the resulting stories seem a bit diluted. This one is the second in the tales of Holmes and the infamous Count.

In 1765, a group of pirates were hanged by the neck until dead - almost. One of the pirates, Kulakov, had been intimate with  a lady vampire before his execution and, having exchanged blood with her, "survived" the experience, though not without a great deal of psychological trauma, which causes him to insanely pursue those who sent him to the noose through the centuries, trying to recover his lost booty.

The story resumes in 1903, when Holmes and Watson are retained by a minor nobleman, Ambrose Altamont, to come and debunk the performance of a couple of spiritualists, Abraham and Sarah Kirkaldy, who have convinced his wife that they have revived the spirit of their recently dead daughter, Louisa. But Louisa is more than a spirit, and as the famous duo continue their investigations, they find that she was abducted and converted by a powerful vampire, and is risen in body as well as spirit.

Well, "set a thief to catch a thief", as they say and when Holmes is injured and carried off by the bloodsucking villain of the piece, Watson must overcome his scruples and contact Vlad Dracula to have any hope of saving him. Their quest leads them from the English countryside to the palaces of St. Petersburg, in the years prior to the Bolshevik takeover, and we even get to see Rasputin in a cameo appearance.

Not Saberhagen's most inspired work ever, but good for a couple evenings' amusement.

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