While this is Women in Horror Week, I wanted to post up a review that has nothing at all to do with our current celebration. Titan Books was nice enough to send me a copy of their most recent addition to The Further Adventures of Sherlock Holmes series, and I definitely wanted to get the review up as soon as I could. Unfortunately, they sent me the novel about three weeks ago, and I have been so swamped I just now finished it. At any rate, I will have an awesome post coming up for Women in Horror Week, but for now, here you go. Trust me, it’s worth it.
The plot of Séance for a Vampire sounds like a comic book or a B movie at first read. Holmes and Watson, together as always, are asked for help by a man, Altamont, who has lost his daughter in a boating accident, and is now worried that his wife is falling prey to false hope and trickery in the guise of a pair of mediums who claim to be able to contact their dear departed daughter. Upon taking the case, Holmes and Watson discover that there is more going on than they first suspected, and the chase is on. As they uncover evidence of vampiric influence, it becomes necessary to call upon Sherlock’s cousin, Dracula.
Admittedly, combining Dracula and Sherlock Holmes does seem a bit ridiculous, but in all honesty, I didn’t even think twice about it. I did feel a bit out of the loop, as Saberhagen has a previous novel where Holmes and Dracula first meet, and it is discovered the two are distantly related. There were more than a few references to this previous adventure, but nothing so important as to interrupt the flow of the novel.
As a brief disclaimer, the story has little to no aspects of the horror genre outside the existence of vampires; it is more of a supernatural action/detective story, which is what Saberhagen was most likely aiming for, and why it is printed under the Sherlock Holmes series. Nevertheless, I enjoyed it immensely. The plot is never dull, and the way the narrative flow switches between Watson and Dracula definitely keeps it interesting.
I did have some issues with the story though. The initial mystery of the missing jewels is mentioned nearly in passing, and by the time the book rolled back around to that plot point I had totally forgotten about it. The entire novel felt like it was designed to be a movie, which is not necessarily a bad thing, but it was more of the Robert Downey Jr. style Holmes than anything else, with little to no deductive reasoning or investigative detective work done by the characters. In this aspect I felt that the story is a Sherlock Holmes tale in name alone, and I can understand why it was initially published under Saberhagen’s Dracula series.
The bottom line is that the story is fun, imaginative, and entertaining. The appearance of one of the most badass historical villains of all time was hinted at throughout the novel and I didn’t even put it all together until the last thirty pages or so, but it was still a welcome inclusion. It’s not very often that a villain can go eye to eye with Dracula himself and walk away. Séance for a Vampire takes two of the most well known literary figures, and combines them into a story that is an excellent homage to both.