HÔTEL TRANSYLVANIA
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

 


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First in the Count of Saint-Germain Cycle
Stealth Press reissue, Jan 2001
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood

Vampire. France 1743-44

The mysterious Comte de Saint-Germain has captured the attention of Paris high society. An elegant gentleman who composes music and wins duels with negligent ease, the Comte sets ladies fluttering whenever he appears at their sides. Most especially Madame Cressie, who has been having strangely vivid dreams about him. No penance has been able to banish thoughts of him, or restore her failing health.

Mme Cressie has good reason to despair. Her perverted husband is a member of the Circle, a group of men dedicated to gaining power by Satanic rituals. The virtue of wifely obedience has been so thoroughly drummed into her that she has no defenses when the Baron de Saint Sebastian, head of the Circle, marks her for torture and sacrifice. But even more than Mme Cressie, Saint Sebastian wants Madelaine, fresh young daughter of the Marquis de Montalia. Madelaine is about to come to Paris for her introduction to society.

Saint-Germain and Madelaine discover in each other an irresistible soul-mating. Her inquiring, independent mind delights him. Saint-Germain doesn’t need to visit Madelaine in her dreams to drink her blood – she welcomes him with ecstasy. His hidden battle against the evils of Saint Sebastian will be forced into the open to protect her.

I was fascinated to read in the Notes that author Chelsea Quinn Yarbro based her Saint-Germain on a mysterious gentleman of the same name, who was living in Paris at this time. The non-fictional Saint-Germain was a wealthy musical composer and alchemist who didn’t show his age. With his flair for showmanship, the living Saint-Germain would undoubtedly have appreciated being turned into a vampire of cult-status popularity, among readers who enjoy genuine history with their thrills.

Passion and intrigue are a combustible compound in HÔTEL TRANSYLVANIA, the name of the mansion to which Saint-Germain attracts the socialites of Paris. This mansion still exists, still bearing that name. Yarbro researches intensively and has a talent for breathing life into what she finds. Her readers are swept up into the maelstroms of history along with the emotions of her stories. Even the glittering decor of Hôtel Transylvania is overmatched by the loves, needs, desperations, or chilly madness of her characters.

HÔTEL TRANSYLVANIA finishes with such stirring momentum that readers who had never met Saint-Germain must have been crying out for a sequel before they had even closed the book. They got their wish. Yarbro’s most recent Saint-Germain book, eighteenth of the series, is STATES OF GRACE. ROMAN DUSK is due out this September.

April 2006

 

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