BOOK REVIEW: The Blood Countess

Posted on November 9, 2010

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My usual book reviewing haunt, http://www.awritergoesonajourney.com, is experiencing some technical difficulties. So for the time being, I shall post reviews on this blog and transfer them to AWGOAJ later.

When I first read of model, Tara Moss, becoming a writer, my initial reaction was ‘yeah right – another celebrity wanting to play at being an author.’ But unlike certain other celebs, Tara Moss is actually the real deal.

After realising this, I made a point of reading her crime novels and enjoyed them. After also seeing her in interview and even being on the receiving end of a tweet or two from her, I became quite the fan. Consequently I was quite interested in reading her new offering, The Blood Countess. That interest was pricked even more by learning of Moss’s fascination with things Victorian gothic and being a little out of left field – how many other authors have their pet python, Thing, keeping them company while they attack the keyboard (the author that is, not the python)? And yes, I am honest enough to admit that I think Ms Moss is dead-set gawjus.

In all honesty I have mixed feelings about The Blood Countess. Don’t get me wrong. I had no difficulties in becoming drawn into the story and read it in pretty quick time. That doesn’t happen if I cannot get into a novel. However I was left a little puzzled by some of the naming conventions Moss has used. This is a novel with vampires, ghosts and general undeadishness. Pandora English has just moved to a darkly gothic mansion in New York, staying with her seemingly ageless great aunt with the mansion itself on Addams Ave (the Addams family?) The avenue is in the suburb of Spektor. Once you realise the presence of ghosts and undead, say that suburb name out loud just in case ‘spectre’ has passed you by. There is even a Morticia in the story although any resemblance to Morticia Addams ends with the name.

If this were a satire, that naming would have been a delight. But I do not get any sense of satire coming through, leaving me puzzled over why an author whose previous use of names complemented the story, would fall for this almost clumsy nomenclature this time.

I was also left with a sense that Pandora was not as well developed a character as Moss’s previous protagonist, Makedde.

The influence of things like Bram Stoker’s Dracula is apparent but that is hardly surprising given Moss’s admitted fascination with that literary legend. And it certainly is not a crime to be influenced by something.

OK. Having expressed those reservations, the really important question was I sufficiently interested to to want to read the next Pandora English novel? Yes.

If you enjoy the gothic meeting the modern world, The Blood Countess is worth checking out. While different and perhaps not as strong a story that Moss’s fans have seen in the past, I suspect they will like this one as well.

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