Booklicious: Booklicious Reviews: Séance for a Vampire

September 08, 2010



Happily, four more books have been added to the book series that kicked off my reviews here on Booklicious. Unhappily, that means my Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes collection is now incomplete, but as a consolation prize I get to review one of those, Séance for a Vampire by Fred Saberhagen. Given the resurgence of pulp, publisher Titan's timing couldn't be better. In Séance, the action is inaugurated by the theft of a Russian kingdom's crown jewels, an attempted homicide, a successful homicide and some vampiric canoodling (displaying a decided lack of sparkle and alabaster skin, however).

Saberhagen's writing is above average compared to the other authors I've sampled through the Further Adventures series. His London backdrop and Victorian countryside are detailed and vibrant without being bludgeoned with mundane details, the characters seem Victorian without fainting every three seconds or speaking with terrible, geographically inappropriate Cockney accents (although readers are forced to suffer through a pair of badly transcribed Scottish ones), Watson isn't a thundering moron, and Dracula is Sherlock Holmes's cousin. For readers unacquainted with Saberhagen's version of the Baker Street sleuth, that is not a joke. Without passing judgment on this rather critical plot device, my review moves on.

The tale itself is told in a fashion reminiscent of both Arthur Conan Doyle's tales and
the original Dracula, bouncing between narration by the indefatigable Dr. Watson and the genteel Count Dracula, who behaves himself most admirably during the course of events, stopping only once to turn a young lady into a soulless undead monster (she had it coming). The book's tagline, “Kidnapped by vampires,” is a slightly misleading one, as Holmes spends very little time actually in the clutches of his undead adversary, but it conveys the message of the book nonetheless, which undoubtedly is, “Sweeeeet – vampires! Sherlock Holmes – double-sweet!”

As a pure pulp adventure, Séance for a Vampire delivers, keeping the pace much quicker and filled with more action than the earlier tales, but the sleuthing takes a back seat as a result. Though the storyline takes place outside London, several elements of the plot and some entertainingly recreated newspaper ads quench Victoriana thirst admirably, and the storytelling by both Dr. Watson and the Count is comedic and engaging. Best of all for fans who reach the end wanting more, it is part of a series, so there are plenty more adventures of Saberhagian Dracula for the reading. For my part, although I don't intend to keep reading the Dracula storyline, I do have to go out and buy the other three books in the Further Adventures – The Man from Hell, The Stalwart Companions and The Seventh Bullet – and hope they're written as readably as Séance for a Vampire. At the very least, they'll look good on the shelf.


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