The Dead Travel Fast is Deanna Raybourn's current foray into the romance genre. Her story is actually a Gothic romantic mystery, and a good one at that. She weaves a truly interesting romantic tale between a modern, independent, and Victorian woman named Theodora Lestrange and a vampire named Count Andrei Dragulescu, who lives in the Carpathian mountains in Romania and almost functions as an homage to the granddaddy of all vampire stories, Bram Stoker, and his vampire creation. Raybourn doesn't use any destiny tricks to bring the two together, such as their blood calling out to each other or their souls being made for one another years or centuries ago. She creates a narrative that has Theodora leaving her homeland of Scotland and her humdrum but perfectly acceptable boyfriend, Charles Beecroft, and traveling to the land of the vampire to see a friend from school and write her first novel. When she gets to the Carpathians, which because of Stoker evokes a mystical and sinister, yet seductive feel, she meets a number of interesting people, including Count Andrei Dragulescu. The story then proceeds to show not only a romance but a murder mystery at the Count's castle.
The story is an interesting one, and for anyone who enjoys their romance subtle, a well crafted one. Theodora is a very likable leading romantic lady, and she's a heroine. Not all female leads in romance novels are. She doesn't do those annoying things that make it necessary to rescue her at every turn. She is characterized by intelligence, not her femininity and weakness. Count Andrei is also a likable character because he possesses intelligence and strength. But he's dark and strange.
Toward the end of the story, he offers her a life of everything as his mistress and she declines, leaving him. As this is a romance novel above all else, this certainly cannot be the end of it. I'm sure I'm not giving away any secrets when I say they marry and live happily ever after. This seems to be a given in this genre, and if you are to read romances, you must accept this. But Raybourn handles it well, and the dialogue doesn't make you cringe because it's overly melodramatic. It should be noted that Raybourn creates an out for herself in this area since the novel takes place in Victorian times, and people spoke far more formally then. It's perfectly natural that the Count says to Theodora, "Even now you do not know what to make of me, and I will not own what I am" and later as they are parting states, "And when you weep...when you weep, you will taste the salt of my tears upon your lips." Lines such as these sound stilted today, but in Victorian times would be quite ordinary. It's when you read lines like these from vampires (or anyone else) of today that they seem over-the-top and ridiculously melodramatic.
If you're looking for a sex fest with everybody letting their freak hair fly, The Dead Travel Fast is not the book for you. However, if you're interested in a story that combines romance with mystery in a truly Gothic fashion that is reminiscent in some ways of Bram Stoker's Dracula, then take a look at Deanna Raybourn's book. You may like it just as I do.
A Vampire Novel...Or Is It?
"The Dead Travel Fast", is a well written, enjoyable novel. The settings were described well enough to "see" them in the mind's eye without the author going "adjective-crazy", the characters were developed over the course of the book, the suspense nicely drawn out, and the tension amid the happenings and between the Dragulescu family and the heroine, Theodora Lestrange, was tangable, but not overly dramatic. The mysterious Andrei Dragulescu is seductive and sensual, dark and secretive, as any vampire worth his weight in garlic should be...that is if he is, in fact a vampire. The best parts of this novel, for me, were that all the eeriness in the book that Theodora must contemplate and attempt to make sense of could actually be explained away according to perspective, and that this heroine isn't "compelled" to stay with her mysterious lover by some supernatural force. She knows what she wants, and what she isn't willing to settle for. When she leaves, there are no tears, no drama, no looking back. This is a sensible woman who makes a choice and then makes the best of it. Oh, that there were more heroines like her......, but I digress. In a genre that often goes from batting eyelashes to bedroom bliss quick, fast, and in a hurry it was nice to turn the pages and leisurely "stroll" toward the promise of passion in Raybourn's tale.
Deanna Raybourn wins in this Broad's Blog.