Monday, March 12, 2012

Review: "Carpathia" by Matt Forbeck

Vampires are all the rage right now, but few bear resemblance to Dracula, the bloodsucker that brought vampires to the forefront of pop culture in Bram Stoker's Dracula.  Underworld has action stars by way of vampires, while Twilight's are of a more...emotional bent (side note: if you're looking for Twilight bashing, you're in the wrong place.  Stephanie Meyer is doing what she loves, making tons of money, and providing entertainment for millions of fans.  More power to her.).  With Carpathia, though, author Matt Forbeck looks to bring the creatures of the night back to their roots.

Carpathia makes the rather clever connection between the ship that rescued the survivors of the Titanic disaster and the mountain range in which Dracula's castle resides.  It's a nebulous sort of sequel or spin-off with just-familiar characters and tropes.  However, a working knowledge of Stoker's work isn't at all necessary to enjoy Forbeck's.

It takes a while for the action to move from the Titanic sinking to the vampires, which could be seen as a (not all unreasonable) complaint.  However, I think this works to strengthen the book as a whole.  We're able to get a more well-rounded look at the main characters and see them as real people who are worried about jobs and social status and love lives, not just having their blood sucked.  There's also an interesting dynamic of having to not just survive supernatural beings but the all too natural elements as well, so seeing the characters brave the cold and the water is a welcome added layer.

Carpathia is cinematic in its scope.  It jumps around quite a bit; in addition to our main three characters, we get a look at the antagonists of the story, as well as minor characters that round out the cast.  There's a great deal of dramatic irony present and the tension that comes from events being apparent to the reader and not the characters (that's not a shark grabbing your leg...) makes for a gripping read.

Overall, Carpathia is a quality novel.  It has an intriguing premise, great characters, and is plain well-written.  If you're looking to satiate your bloodlust for vampires, Carpathia is a good diversion from the recent crop that harkens back to the monster's pop culture roots.

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