Tim Powers’s most recent novel, Hide Me Among the Graves, is a rich parallel history full of dark magical realism set in Victorian England.
Hide Me Among the Graves totally redeems vampires from sparkly teenage banality and brings us back to something really horrific that owes more than a tip of the hat to Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s terrifyingly seductive corruptions. (See LeFanu’s amazing novella Carmilla)
In fact, I get the impression that he wrote Hide Me Among the Graves as a vampire novel much in the same way that Crocodile Dundee told those would-be muggers “That’s not a knife…THIS is a knife.”
If there was a dictionary entry for “Magical Realism” it would have a picture of Tim Powers (and he’d be haloed with hand drawn stars and consummate V’s to indicate majesty and stuff).
If you’re not familiar with Tim Power’s modus operandi, he loves to take historical characters and events (in this case, English Pre-Raphaelite artists and poets) and re-imagine their lives, motives, and actions as if magic was, er, real.
For example, in Hide Me Among the Graves, John Polidori, author of the 1819 short story “The Vampyre,” is in fact a vampire with a claim on the talented Rossetti family (artists and poets of the Pre-Raphaelite movement). Throw in a pitch perfect revision of the scoundrel adventurer Edward John Trelawny as a cantankerous old monster-hunter, and the rebellious ancient Queen Boadicea, and you’ve got a sprawling, well-researched novel that subverts real history in delightful ways.
Fair warning: skip it if you get bored by anything that’s not an easy read full of splatter and shock and explosions.
But if you want something you can really sink your teeth into, Hide Me Among the Graves is an intelligent, frightening, historical, literary, and deliciously dark novel. It’s all the best of Victorian Gothic horror with all the best of modern literary dark fantasy.