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Jonathan Aycliffe draws on the first part of Bram Stoker's Dracula for the bones of his story--a naive Englishman travels to a remote, forbidding castle in the mountains of Transylvania (postcommunist Romania)--and then fleshes it out with appealing characters and a different (but unabashedly gothic) plot. Aycliffe's writing is simple and fluid, concisely developing the shifting emotions and relationships as the dark underbelly of the story slowly reveals itself. The evil beings in The Lost are not vampires, but strigoï--free-floating shades of an ancient family of lords. They die and yet don't decay. Their appetites are even more unspeakable than bloodsucking. As Gahan Wilson writes in Realms of Fantasy, "If you enjoy this sort of thing at all, you will have a fine, frightening time as Aycliffe hints at and then delivers nasty surprises, ghastly revelations, and increasingly appalling villainies." --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
When the protagonist of this potent gothic horror tale describes its unnerving revelations as "images out of nightmare, shuffled and presented to our gaze like slides on a flickering screen," he could just as easily be referring to the epistolary narrative that Aycliffe (The Matrix) uses to give his literary nightmare the discomfiting feel of reality. Michael Feraru's ill-fated trip to Romania to reclaim Castel Vlaicu, the legend-haunted estate his family abandoned after fleeing to England at the end of WWII, unfolds through linked journal extracts, letters and press clippings that grow increasingly ominous the closer he comes to achieving his objective. On the surface, they relate Michael's painstaking excavation of his family's buried history, which is tainted with hints of vampirism and ghoulish atrocities well known to the locals. At a deeper level, they capture Michael's subtle transformation from naif to nascent monster, as the hereditary curse he unwittingly reactivates perverts his ambition to turn the castle into an orphanage and insidiously works its effect through him on loved ones back home. Aycliffe channels with finesse the undercurrent of terrible fear that runs through the novel, orchestrating Michael's investigations into the forbidden past and his travels through the bleak Romanian wilderness into a single irreversible descent into the heart of darkness.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.