Thursday, October 22, 2009

New This Month: The Midnight Guardian by Sarah Jane Stratford

On the off-chance that you’re not yet totally sick of vampires, debut novelist Sarah Jane Stratford serves up an interesting new take on the blood-sucking mythos. A sort of alternate history, with vampires, The Midnight Guardian (St. Martin’s Press) opens on Hitler’s Germany, right at the bloody center of the Second World War. By 1940, Hitler has managed to kill all the vampires in Europe and Britain’s vampires are outraged and incensed and determine to disrupt the Nazis from their course of destruction.

Stratford’s fiction clearly owes a debt to the most senior of vampire lore weavers: both Bram Stoker and Anne Rice though, certainly, her creations show little resemblance to the Twighlightish teens of recent efforts by others. This may be in part due her education: Stratford holds a Masters degree in medieval history from the University of York and the depth and clarity with which she approaches these aspects of her material really come through. You get the feeling that, in building her particular lore, Stratford is on very solid ground.

Stratford’s story is tight and she can certainly write but one just wonders if -- really? -- the world is ready for still more vampires after we’ve seen so very many. Still The Midnight Guardian is a worthwhile and in some ways thought-provoking book.

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