by Melanie Jackson
Dorchester, February, 2005.
Paperback, 339 pages.
Author Brice Ashton buries herself in her work as a way to keep at bay the sorrow she still feels over her husband's death in a gruesome car accident that also injured her severely. Always a fan of Lord Byron, Brice has now written a comprehensive biography of the British poet and writer. Brice is shocked to receive an invitation from sharp-tongued book critic Damien Ruthven, who has been given an advance reading copy of her new book. Against her better judgement, Brice goes to New York to meet the rich and famous critic who can reduce an author to tears with his beautifully written, sometimes scathing reviews. When Brice meets Damien, she gets the shock of her life. First off, he's young. He's also handsome. And he knows more about Lord Byron than any scholar. Which is not surprising, since he is Lord Byron himself, made immortal by the mad Dr. Johann Dippel who "cured" Byron of his epilepsy that one frightful night, which was later written about by Mary Shelley in her novel, Frankenstein. The shock of finding out that her handsome new acquaintance is the poet that she has hero-worshipped for years is nothing compared to the shock that Dr. Dippel -- and his monstrous creations of the undead -- are stalking them.
Melanie Jackson's many fans from her Goblin series ( Traveler, Still Life etc.), will be happy to step into this talented author's latest fantasy, which is a stand-alone. The story of a wounded heroine who spends her days alone with her computer and her literary heroes and a poet and hero from the past makes a unique tale of romance and horror. The gothic atmosphere is very well-done, and Ms. Jackson does an excellent job of bringing Lord Byron to life. Like the late Rod Serling, Ms. Jackson has the ability to begin a story in which events seem perfectly natural. Then, as strange things begin to happen, one after another, the reader is lead effortlessly into the author's fantasy world. It's a wild premise, but Melanie Jackson makes it work, and the romance sizzles.
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This review was published in the January-February, 2005 of The Internet Writing Journal.
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