The Pierced Heart

Written by Lynn Shepherd
Review by Amy Watkin

This book truly is inspired by Dracula, but it is itself an inspired idea that captures a place, a time, even a mood, without simply rewriting Bram Stoker’s work. Victorian detective Charles Maddox journeys to the castle of scientist Baron Von Reisenberg, intending to do a fairly quick background check on the mysterious man. But Maddox finds himself in the midst of puzzling secrets that those familiar with the Baron are too frightened to reveal. Meanwhile, several murders have been committed in London, and the culprit has been nicknamed “The Vampire.” Maddox must travel between this remote castle and bustling 19th-century London, unraveling the mystery to determine whether there is any connection between these people and places.

The book is unsettling in the best way. Anyone who’s read Dracula will find the mood and a few incidents familiar, but without ever feeling like they are reading the same story all over again. This is a new tale, with a similar creepy flavor that Dracula lovers will enjoy. Those who have not read Dracula will not miss out on allusions or anything that depends on Stoker’s tale to make this one compulsively readable, suspenseful, and dark. The same is true for Maddox himself. He has appeared in Shepherd’s other books, and his past is referred to, but those who have not read the other books will not feel lost.

Even the paragraph breaks in this book are helpful, allowing a certain pause in the reading to take in the events and relish the suspense. I certainly highly recommend this book.