When her beloved grandfather dies, Theodora Lestrange finds herself dependent on the charity of others to survive. As a Victorian woman intent on making her living by her pen, she still doesn’t earn enough to house herself, but she’s repulsed by the idea of living with her sister and brother-in-law and children. Luckily, her friend Cosmina writes to her, urging her to attend her wedding in Romania to the enigmatic Count Dragulescu, and stay for a while. Theodora gratefully accepts, planning to write her novel in an atmospheric castle. But when she arrives, she discovers more than atmosphere – a mystery that could have more to do with the supernatural than anything she’s ever encountered before.
If you’re a long-time reader of my blog, you’ll know that I just adore Deanna Raybourn’s Lady Julia Grey series. I was made a little sad by the fact that she took time off from Julia to write this book, but I looked forward to it just the same. And with good reason; her writing quality stands up to the test and I definitely enjoyed my time with this book.
The beginning started off particularly slowly, which had me worrying at first. It all felt like a simple summary of what had gone before and way more telling than showing. I was waiting for the action to get started, and it finally picked up when Theodora got to Romania and the book began properly.
I didn’t love it quite as much as the Lady Julia Grey series, though, perhaps because much of it feels like the same characters in a different story. Theodora is a paler imitation of Julia and the Count just doesn’t have the appeal that Nicholas Brisbane does. I didn’t fall in love with them and I felt the Count in particular remained shadowy, possessed of few attributes beyond his physical attractiveness and rakish past. But I liked them and I was intrigued by the mystery, whether there were truly supernatural creatures in Romania or not and what was the true cause of these crimes. I didn’t predict the outcome, but then I didn’t think about it all the much either. I was too busy reading!
The Dead Travel Fast is an engaging gothic romance, but doesn’t quite touch the appeal of the Lady Julia Grey series. If you’re new to Raybourn’s books, I would suggest starting with Silent in the Grave.
I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from the Amazon Vine program for review.