The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers
Review by Daniel Cann
Fantasy Book Review Book of the Month, September 2012
LAKE GENEVA, 1816
As Byron and Shelley row on the peaceful waters of Lake Geneva, a sudden squall threatens to capsize their boat. But this is no natural event – something has risen from the lake itself to attack them.
Michael Crawford’s wife is brutally murdered on their wedding night as he sleeps peacefully beside her – and a vengeful ghost claims Crawford as her own husband.
Crawford’s quest to escape his supernatural bride takes him to the edges of Europe: a journey shared by other victims of the ghost’s embrace. The greatest poets of the day – Byron, Keats, and Shelley – embark with Crawford on a desperate Grand Tour through Europe, seeking to outrun the demonic presence who takes her pleasure in their ravaged bodies and imperilled souls.
This highly acclaimed 1989 novel by Tim Powers has been re-released as a “prequel” to the recently published Hide Me Among the Graves. Having read and generally enjoyed “Graves” I was eager to see for myself what the fuss was all about regarding the first book.
It is lengthy at over 500 pages, but, I can happily report, it was well worth it. With the original premise of following the poets Byron, Keats and Shelley and blending their exploits with fiction, Powers has pulled a masterstroke in the genre of horror/fantasy.
This Gothic novel is descriptive, atmospheric, gripping, gory, chilling and utterly compulsive. Unlike its sequel, the characters here are exciting and charismatic. You really feel for the main character of Michael Crawford and the terrible predicament he finds himself in.
A story that has vampires, nephelim, living statues and a supernatural curse as the reasons for literary greatness gets my vote! This is about enjoying talent, but at a great personal cost.
Lyrical, ambitious, sprawling and epic, “The Stress of Her Regard” sees horrific events taking place against the backdrop of some of the most beautiful and picturesque parts of Europe: a neat juxtaposition.
This is about outcasts living in forced exile in Europe, being stalked by ancient mythical creatures. Frantic and fast-paced, the desperation leaps off the page.
Its only faults are some anachronisms: English and Irish 19th century poets would not use American slang and terms of phrase for example, exclaiming “Goddamit!” repeatedly. Also, they would not describe autumn as “the fall.”
Nonetheless, this is an excellent novel and fully deserves the plaudits it already has, and it should enjoy new fans and a wider readership this second time around.
Reissued 2012 by Corvus
Jeremiah from USA
This is actually the third release of this book. Tachyon released it as a Trade paperback with the same number of pages as this mass market, and selling for the same price. Get the Trade Paperback :) Absolutely fantastic book like almost anything by Powers.
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