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The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn

For the last couple of weeks I've been obsessively checking my local bookstore's stock online to see if Deanna Raybourn's The Dead Travel Fast just happened to get in early. Yes, I actually am that nerdy and it's much too late to do anything about it. But, in this case, the effort paid off as a nice, healthy stack of them awaited me on the "New Fiction" table when I dashed in from the rain on my way home from work. As you know, I am a devoted Lady Julia Grey fan. I adore that series and am anxiously awaiting the upcoming fourth installment--Dark Road to Darjeeling--due out this October. But when I heard she was working on a standalone historical set in Transylvania and featuring a would-be lady novelist and a mysterious count...well...I was equal parts intrigued and excited. Who knew what delights and promises it would hold?

Miss Theodora LeStrange has come to the end of her rope. When her grandfather and guardian passes away, her well-meaning if rather insipid brother-in-law takes it upon himself to determine what exactly is to be done with her. Terrified of what he will come up with, Theodora grasps at the nearest straw in the form of a letter from her old school friend Cosmina who now resides at Castle Dragulescu in Transylvania. She invites Theodora to come and stay in celebration of her approaching nuptials. A budding novelist, Theodora convinces her friend and publisher Charles Beecroft the experience will serve to inspire her imagination and fuel the novel she knows is lurking inside just waiting to be brought forth. Against their better judgement, her family and friends let her go and the adventure of a lifetime begins. Upon arrival Theodora is reunited with Cosmina and introduced to the aging Countess and her mysterious son--the newly appointed Count. In a land where the sinister is a daily occurrence and the horrifying merely commonplace, Theodora's imagination is more than stimulated. It is driven into overdrive as her Scottish pragmatism wars with the inexplicable and increasingly nightmarish events unfolding in this small Roumanian village at the edge of the world.


This was such an interesting read. It was at times exactly and not at all what I expected and my response to it evolved as the pages turned. I liked Theodora from the beginning. She is much more pragmatic, yet somehow less sure of herself than Julia Grey and I wondered how she would handle the--what seemed to me--clearly supernatural events at Castle Dragulescu. But just when you (and she) think you have the story and Count Andrei figured out, the narrative takes a meditative turn and you find yourself not at all sure. Perhaps it is merely smoke and mirrors and can all be explained away by an ancient grudge, a marital infidelity, or a genetic predisposition. And so the tale winds on, weaving back and forth between the mundane and the spectacular, never revealing its secrets. At first I was impatient to discover the truth, but it was when I gave myself up to the story that I enjoyed Deanna Raybourn's wonderfully gifted way with words. I was amazed at how seamless the writing and the dialogue were. Initially I wanted to like Andrei as much as I do Brisbane, but he is an entirely different breed of alpha male and not nearly as instantly likable. But he isn't meant to be, I don't think. Much more Rochester than Thornton from the word go. And once again, it was when I sat back and let it wash over me that I really was able to appreciate this novel for what it is--a pitch-perfect Victorian Gothic romance. And the ending was perfect. What a talent for endings Ms. Raybourn has and how much I look forward to each of her books--whatever style or genre they may be.

A Note: For Lady Julia Grey aficionados, there is a delightful little reference to that series hidden in The Dead Travel Fast. It left a happily satisfied smile on my face. See if you can spot it.


Linkage
Creative Madness Review
Garden in my Pocket Review
A Girl Walks Into a Bookstore...Review

Comments

  1. Oh! I have been longing for this book to come out!! Looks like it's time to get my booty to the bookstore... :)

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  2. The ending was perfect and the writing seamless? *Sigh*

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  3. I am so glad you enjoyed this! I have read some unfortunately mediocre reviews, but I love the Lady Julia Grey series and I really want to like this book. I feel better about buying it, now. =)

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  4. Anonymous8:54 AM

    I loved the story-telling and especially the ending too-I'm so happy to hear you did as well! Thanks for posting too about the next book in the Lady Julia series! That's going right on my TBR list!

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  5. I'm all for a good Rochester ;) Thanks for the review on this one!

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  6. I NEED this!!

    And I need the next Lady Julia book.... :D
    I'm so feeling like I need to reread the first ones. Not "want" to... NEED TO!

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  7. Anonymous10:20 AM

    I wondered if you would review this soon! I also picked up an early copy but haven't read it yet. I'm glad you liked it.

    And thank you for telling us the title of the next Julia Grey book. And October! Yay!

    Karen

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  8. I thought I was the only one who started checking two weeks before the release date! As soon as I found it my local B&N via their website, I was there :) Haven't read it yet though.

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  9. Elizabeth, hightail it on over there stat! :)

    Holly, she really pulled it out for me in the end. Like I said, very different read from the Julia Greys, but awfully well done.

    Meghan, yeah, I've read some of them as well. I think it's important to go in not expecting the same thing as the Julia Grey series. It's necessarily different and she's trying to do something different with it as well. But it surprised me and I really enjoyed it.

    Rachel, I know! I was so thrilled it's coming out this year as well. She must be working her tail off!

    Michelle, I know you are. ;) This one has that trademark Rochester enigmatic air and libertine past down pat.

    Britt, I know that feeling very well. And when it comes nothing else will do. Resistance is futile, my friend.

    Karen, I know! It's so exciting. I can't wait.

    Jen, nope. I'm right there with you. Hope you like it when you get to it!

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  10. The book looks so good, thanks for the review. Fun additions you have made to your site. I love the Beloved Bookshelf. Can't wait to get to them all.
    -Stephanie

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  11. Yay!! I can't wait to read this one after the thumbs up. :D
    (I'll def be on the lookout for the reference to her other series)

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  12. I am having an excitement freakout in anticipation for this book.

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  13. Oh, I'm so glad you liked it! Not that I had any doubt this book would be anything but great :)

    Can't wait to read it!!!

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  14. Steph, always happy to see you comment. :) I'm glad you like the additions in the navbar. Let me know if you do read anything off the BB!

    Samantha, it came out of nowhere and I was like...hehehe, awesome!

    Carolyn, *grin* hie thee to a bookstore!

    Mandi, yes, once I let it be itself everything was just fine.

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  15. Thanks so much for the book love--I know how hard it is for readers to take a chance on new characters, and I'm glad you came along for the ride!

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  16. Deanna, thank you so much for stopping by! I thoroughly enjoyed it and will follow wherever you go. :)

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  17. I am so excited! I am number 1 on the library list and the book is in cataloguing so I should be able to get it very soon!

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  18. Marg, awesome. Enjoy!

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