A husband, a family, a comfortable life: Theodora Lestrange lives in terror of it all.
With a modest inheritance and the three gowns that comprise her entire wardrobe, Theodora leaves Edinburgh—and a disappointed suitor—far behind. She is bound for Romania, where tales of vampires are still whispered, to visit an old friend and write the book that will bring her true independence.
She arrives at a magnificent, decaying castle in the Carpathians, replete with eccentric inhabitants: the ailing dowager; the troubled steward; her own fearful friend, Cosmina. But all are outstripped in dark glamour by the castle’s master, Count Andrei Dragulescu.
Bewildering and bewitching in equal measure, the brooding nobleman ignites Theodora’s imagination and awakens passions in her that she can neither deny nor conceal. His allure is superlative, his dominion over the superstitious town, absolute—Theodora may simply be one more person under his sway.
Before her sojourn is ended—or her novel completed—Theodora will have encountered things as strange and terrible as they are seductive. For obsession can prove fatal…and she is in danger of falling prey to more than desire.
Brooding as black licorice, The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn is lush and Gothic, a romance shadowed by the diabolical legacy haunting a gloomy castle in the Transylvania of 1858. Heroine Theodora Lestrange is a coltish Scottish novelist confined by spinsterhood to dwell under her straight-laced brother-in-law’s roof. Her life is a stifling casket until girlhood friend Cosmina invites Theodora to her crumbling ancestral home in Romania. Will passion trump virtue? Charlotte Parry narrates and her impudent Theodora disarms with an Edinburgh burr that thickens with indignance or tenderness, exposing vulnerability. Parry also reveals Theodora’s core loneliness with faltering pauses and hard swallows. She’s equally refined navigating palace intrigues in Transylvania without resorting to derivative “I vant to suck your blood” Dracula-like accents.
The Dead Travel Fast is built on foreshadowing, moodiness, and Theodora’s magnetic attraction to remote Count Andrei Dragulescu, lord of the castle. Once listlessly betrothed to his cousin Cosmina trembly and spooked the Count is intrigued by Theodora’s skittish, impulsive intelligence. She, in turn, pines for his distant smoldering. Things upend, though, when a servant girl is killed, two bite marks on her neck. Her murder tips the village into frenzy. For in Transylvania, land of devout believers, superstition is fact and vampires masquerade as noblemen. “I was not given to somnambulism,” Theodora frets, upon awakening to ominously unknotted plaits. “But I might be well capable of unbinding my hair ribbons in my sleep.”
Charlotte Parry wisely forgoes formulaic bantering to slow dance through Theodora and Andrei’s mutual resistance to animal instincts. Her Theodora and Andrei are guarded and flawed, scorning any hint of neediness. The audiobook resolves realistically, for among the undead, as in the living, the path to true love is frequently ruined by stakes through the heart. Nita Rao
“With a strong and unique voice, Deanna Raybourn creates unforgettable characters in a richly detailed world. This is storytelling at its most compelling.” (Nora Roberts)
"Theodora is a delightful heroine, so much so that cruel, petty, misogynistic Andrei never really seems worthy of her....Raybourn's intriguing treatment of vampire legends will delight fans of the genre." (Publishers Weekly)
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