Brooding as black licorice, The Dead Travel Fast by Deanna Raybourn is lush and Gothic, a romance shadowed by the diabolical legacy haunting a gloomy castle in the Transylvania of 1858. Heroine Theodora Lestrange is a coltish Scottish novelist confined by spinsterhood to dwell under her straight-laced brother-in-law’s roof. Her life is a stifling casket until girlhood friend Cosmina invites Theodora to her crumbling ancestral home in Romania. Will passion trump virtue? Charlotte Parry narrates and her impudent Theodora disarms with an Edinburgh burr that thickens with indignance or tenderness, exposing vulnerability. Parry also reveals Theodora’s core loneliness with faltering pauses and hard swallows. She’s equally refined navigating palace intrigues in Transylvania without resorting to derivative “I vant to suck your blood” Dracula-like accents.
The Dead Travel Fast is built on foreshadowing, moodiness, and Theodora’s magnetic attraction to remote Count Andrei Dragulescu, lord of the castle. Once listlessly betrothed to his cousin Cosmina trembly and spooked the Count is intrigued by Theodora’s skittish, impulsive intelligence. She, in turn, pines for his distant smoldering. Things upend, though, when a servant girl is killed, two bite marks on her neck. Her murder tips the village into frenzy. For in Transylvania, land of devout believers, superstition is fact and vampires masquerade as noblemen. “I was not given to somnambulism,” Theodora frets, upon awakening to ominously unknotted plaits. “But I might be well capable of unbinding my hair ribbons in my sleep.”
Charlotte Parry wisely forgoes formulaic bantering to slow dance through Theodora and Andrei’s mutual resistance to animal instincts. Her Theodora and Andrei are guarded and flawed, scorning any hint of neediness. The audiobook resolves realistically, for among the undead, as in the living, the path to true love is frequently ruined by stakes through the heart. Nita Rao
A husband, a family, a comfortable life: Theodora Lestrange lives in terror of it all.
With a modest inheritance and the three gowns that comprise her entire wardrobe, Theodora leaves Edinburgh—and a disappointed suitor—far behind. She is bound for Romania, where tales of vampires are still whispered, to visit an old friend and write the book that will bring her true independence.
She arrives at a magnificent, decaying castle in the Carpathians, replete with eccentric inhabitants: the ailing dowager; the troubled steward; her own fearful friend, Cosmina. But all are outstripped in dark glamour by the castle’s master, Count Andrei Dragulescu.
Bewildering and bewitching in equal measure, the brooding nobleman ignites Theodora’s imagination and awakens passions in her that she can neither deny nor conceal. His allure is superlative, his dominion over the superstitious town, absolute—Theodora may simply be one more person under his sway.
Before her sojourn is ended—or her novel completed—Theodora will have encountered things as strange and terrible as they are seductive. For obsession can prove fatal…and she is in danger of falling prey to more than desire.
©2010 Deanna Raybourn (P)2010 Audible, Inc.
“With a strong and unique voice, Deanna Raybourn creates unforgettable characters in a richly detailed world. This is storytelling at its most compelling.” (Nora Roberts)
"Theodora is a delightful heroine, so much so that cruel, petty, misogynistic Andrei never really seems worthy of her....Raybourn's intriguing treatment of vampire legends will delight fans of the genre." (Publishers Weekly)
Read from March 7, 2010 to March 14, 2010 and from July 30 to August 11, 2013
Story: 4 stars
Narrator: 4.5 stars
I originally listened to this book back in 2010, and enjoyed it. It was my first exposure to Deanna Raybourn, and I love Charlotte Parry as a narrator.
In this story, DR takes the Dracula story and turns it into a Gothic romance, complete with first-person narrator---a young woman in an unfamiliar setting, which just so happens to be a moldering castle in Transylvania populated by strange, suspicious characters. Here, even in the late 19th-century, the residents of the castle and the village at the base of the mountain on which the castle sits, believe in the "old ways"---the ways which say that vampires and werewolves are real.
This is such a fun book. The first-person narrator structure allows the listener to get sucked into the heroine's world and into the questions of whether or not vampires are real and, if they are, who in the castle is one. The ending is a bit fantastic, but, frankly, with the amount of suspension of disbelief the whole story requires, it isn't that far of a stretch. This is definitely one for the relisten-again shelf!
The Dog Mom
I listened to every Lady Julia Grey book from audible and loved each one. How the same talented and creative author could have written this book is beyond me. Frankly, it is just plain silly; a warmed over story, without the great chemistry between characters that is a hallmark of the Lady Julia books. I read one negative review of this book and should have heeded its warning.
I listened to this book on a trip to and from Seattle with a 3 hour traffic jam on top of Snoqualmie Pass. It was low-key enough to keep me within the speed limit and gave me something to focus on during the wait. It is a lot of process; descriptions of everything; mood, mannerisms, thought processes. It isn't a book that is going to get you wound up and going; but it is a good yarn and I liked it. The ending was a little rushed, but by the time it ended I was READY to have it end, you know? The narrator did a great job with the voices and accents, and the gentle Scots flavor of the bulk of the narration was soothing.
Narration was very good. But the story itself is your common girl meets tortured guy, girl "fixes" him with her love. I enjoy the Lady Julia Grey books, but am disappointed in this particular title. Lady Julia Grey stories are fun and an easy distraction from tedious housework. Big picture, it encourages women trying to fix a man, a dangerous and (often) fruitless endeavor.
Loved...Loved...LOVED this book!
While it was a little slow in the beginning, it quickly picked up with stunning visual depictions, an interesting plot and a fabulous narration! Well worth the credit!
O Day of days when we can read! The reader and the book, either without the other is naught. Ralph Waldo Emerson. I Love to read, a great time for me is curling up with a great book!!!
It is a shame i had to give this a one star just to write how bad the story was. Please spend your credit elsewhere
I loved the vivid and colorful descriptions. The story felt like a classic in line with Braam Stoker. I could picture it all so vibrantly in my mind. Well done author and vocal talent both.
The story itself is interesting, but seems a little longer and drawn out than the Lady Julia books. It has beautiful descriptions. The mysteries of the story sometimes falter- the plot could be a little tighter, but overall enjoyable. It was a good book, just not as good as some of the others by Ms. Raybourn.
The main character was fairly well done, but the accent did falter at times. I was distracted by the Count's accent/voice. It often took me out of the story. Sometimes the inflection did match the words and ideas.
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