Aug 30, 2007

Mostert - Season of the Witch

Natasha Mostert's Season of the Witch (Dutton, 2007) is one of the best books I've read in a long time. I obsessively turned the pages fearful of what might come next, but desperately needing to know, I was almost as obsessed as Gabriel Blackstone in his hunger to taste again the cosmic illumination he felt, only once, in a trip into the memory palace, a most dangerous and fascinating place..

What a wild magical and disturbing ride. "Slam the ride" is what the Remote Viewers (RV) called it when they broke into psi-space to catch glimpses of the thought and memories left by others. Gabriel is one of the most talented of RV's recruited by Eyestorm a private British company based in Oxford. With him is Cecily Franke, nicknamed Frankie. They are the two youngest recruits and amongst the few that make the final cut. They receive training from Mullins the stern leader who insists they work as a team, but Gabriel prefers to work alone. In the end his own arrogance and the death of a young woman cause him to pick up and leave. He does this without even saying goodbye to Frankie - his lover and friend.

Years later he is working in London with a computer geek named Isador. This talented fellow can hack into any system ever created. Gabriel and Isidore are partners in an illegal company that steals information for one company from their competitor. A very lucrative business being information thieves, but Gabriel has not left his past behind as he had hoped.

Frankie calls on him years later. She is married to a very wealthy man whose adult son, Robbie, is missing. He was last seen in the company of two beautiful women, the Monk sisters, Morrighan and Minnaloushe. Morrighan with her luxurious black hair and Minnaloushe a ravishing red-haired beauty. His father felt his son was bewitched by them. Robbie wanted only to be in their company. Then one night he disappeared. Frankie used her RV talent to try to find him or at least discover what happened to him, but she could sense nothing. She begs Gabriel to "jump the ride" and use his stronger talent to find Robbie. He accepts this job reluctantly, but one evening - almost without trying - he slips into psi-space and, using Robbie's memories, travels with him through a house of many rooms, a manion with hundreds, maybe thousands of doors, and Robbie knows precisely which doors to open and in which sequence. Then a woman wearing a black mask appears and leads him to a doorway he knows to be wrong, but he is so enchanted by her that he follows her to what is ultimately his death.

Gabriel is intrigued. The secret to Robbie's disappearance is obviously linked to the Monk sisters, and Gabriel promises to unravel the mystery. This leads him into a world more dangerous than he ever imagined, one of Solar witches with powers that transcend reality. One of the sisters is surely a killer, but Gabriel is so captivated by them that he becomes much like the besotted Robbie and cares only about being with these enchantresses and their magic. It is solely, though the love of a special someone that he has any chance of survival.

Aug 22, 2007

Dresden in Sci Fi's Circular File - Roush Dispatch |

On May 4 I posted on Patricia's Vampire Notes a press release from a group wanting fans to write to SciFi channel to save The Dresden Files. Sadly the campaign didn't work. See Matt Roush's brief article below.


After months of fielding questions from fans desperate to know if Sci Fi was ever going to make a decision on the fate of its clever private-eye/fantasy hybrid The Dresden Files, it's official: The show isn't returning for a second season.

A shame, but hardly a surprise, given the reticence to discuss the matter every time I brought it up to Sci Fi or NBC Universal Cable execs during the recent TCA press tour. In their world, it's all about "running the numbers" (in other words: looking at the ratings and budgets, etc.) and to them, Dresden just didn't seem to measure up.

This confirmation came my way the same morning that there are reports in the trades that Paul Blackthorne, Dresden's very appealing star, has joined the cast of ABC's Big Shots in a recurring role as what's being described as the show's "fifth CEO... a sophisticated, iconic tycoon that the [other] four (Dylan McDermott, Michael Vartan, Christopher Titus, Joshua Malina) aspire to be."

At least he's landed on his feet. Harry Dresden would be proud.

Posted by Matt Roush
Aug 3, 2007 11:02 AM

Dresden in Sci Fi's Circular File - Roush Dispatch |

Aug 21, 2007

Characters from Dracula

Stoker, Bram. Dracula . Westminster: Constable, 1897.
First American edition NY: Doubleday & McClure, 1899. Hardcover.

Stoker's Dracula has come to personify what most readers imagine what a "real" vampire must be like: an undead creature who lives on human blood, prefers to make his rounds at night, has superhuman strength, casts no reflection in a mirror, hates garlic, fears crosses and holy water, and can change into a bat, a wolf, or mist at will. Even though these traits are familiar and countless films have been made about Count Dracula, Stoker's powerfully written novel still rouses fear in even the most jaded heart. Through the journals, diaries, and letters of those besieged by this evil count, the horror builds as Dracula's plan to move his stronghold from Transylvania to Victorian England and create a new "unlife" for himself, seems unstoppable. For anyone not familiar with the story a brief description of the various protagonists can be helpful. These characters often show up in other vampire stories -- individually or as an ensemble.

Count Dracula -- a centuries old vampire of immense evil who has lived his many years in the Carpathian mountains of Transylvania causing endless grief and terror to nearby residents. He plans to leave his ancestral homeland and head for England's shores.

Jonathan Harker -- a young solicitor who travels to Transylvania at the behest of the Count in order to help him prepare for the move to England. Jonathan soon realizes he is not only in the presence of a terrible evil, but worse, is a prisoner in imminent peril for his life and soul.

Lucy Westenra -- a lively pretty young woman with three handsome suitors. She is also Dracula's first English victim.

Arthur Holmwood -- heir of Lord Godalming and the winner in the contest to win Lucy's hand.
Quincey P. Morris -- an American from Texas.
John Seward -- a doctor in charge of a nearby lunatic asylum. When Lucy becomes "ill" and does not respond to treatment, John sends for his former mentor Dr. Van Helsing in hopes that a cure can be found for her.

Mina Harker (nee Murray). -- fiancee (and later wife of Jonathan) who is also a close friend of Lucy's. After Lucy's death, Mina becomes the next object of Dracula's attention. He wants her for his bride. But the scheme is interrupted by Dr. Abraham Van Helsing. Unfortunately Mina has been forced to drink some of Dracula's blood and now has a psychic link to him. This link, however, will be used to track him when he flees.

Dr. Abraham Van Helsing
-- Sent for from Amsterdam by John Seward, Van Helsing becomes suspicious of what lies behind Lucy's illness. Still he is unable to save her. It is Van Helsing who then convinces the other men - Harker ( who has escaped from Dracula's castle) and Lucy's suitors - that a vampire is at work and must be hunted down and destroyed.

-- a patient in Dr. Seward's asylum. Renfield practices his own brand of entomology. After quietly studying flies and spiders he then proceeds to eat them. He eventually becomes the human servant of Dracula.

Following is a brief list of modern day novels using characters from Stoker's Dracula as protagonists.

Anno Dracula by Kim Newman.

Blood to Blood: The Dracula Story Continues by Elaine Bergstrom

by Kate Cary.

The Bloody Red Baron by Kim Newman

The Book of Renfield : A Gospel of Dracula by Tim Lucas

The Diaries of the Family Dracul. by Jeanne Kalogridis - a series of three novels which should be read in order.
Covenant With the Vampire
Children of the Vampire
Lord of the Vampires

The Dracula Tape by Fred Saberhagen.
This novel is followed by several others that are based on the closeness of Dracula (in this series he's a good guy) to Mina Harker and her descendants.

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

Judgement of Tears: Anno Dracula 1959 by Kim Newman

Mina by Elaine Bergstrom.

Renfield Slave of Dracula by Barbara Hambly