The Dead Travel Fast
In 1858 Edinburgh, Theodora Lestrange finds herself an anchorless young spinster. She has just lost her grandfather, a kindly professor who has raised her, and she has no roots of her own. Does she go to live with her sister and brother-in-law who are tight-lipped, close-mouthed and judgmental? Does she accept a marriage proposal from a nice enough fellow she doesn’t love? How does a reasonably successful writer move ahead with her life?
Theodora receives a letter from her old schoolmate and best friend, Cosmina, who she learns is about to be married in the Carpathians. Cosmina begs her to attend and Theodora, imagining a romantic trip to an unusual locale, accepts, feeling that this is the perfect location for her next work.
By the time Theodora arrives, it is clear that the wedding to Count Dragulescu is off. And then things begin to unravel. Theodora, already imaginative, begins to see, hear and feel things that are strange and unsavory. Tales of vampires and werewolves abound. The locals are immersed in supernatural tradition and believe that the dead walk and destroy and that the living are being transformed into vicious animals. Then a member of the castle household is murdered. Is it the old Count’s ghost come to seek revenge?
This is a fun winter read, fluffy and entertaining. The atmospheric Carparthians are drenched with dread and foreboding. The vampire legends are explored thoroughly, and Raybourn seems to have fun with it. As Theodora slips further away from her strong, staunch Scot ways into the romance and terror of Transylvania, she is transformed. She is a well-developed character and we come to admire her. And although the plot – and everything else in the book – is manipulated and contrived, it’s all for good sport.