Hemning Sternberg (moonshadow) wrote in bookish,
Hemning Sternberg

Tempting Fate by Chelsea Quinn Yarbro

Title: Tempting Fate
Author: Chelsea Quinn Yarbro
Genre: Historical fiction with vampires.
Series: Saint-Germain (#5 in order of publication, #25 chronologically!)
Pages: 690
Copyright Date: 1982
Cover: An elegantly dressed couple stands before a curving staircase, wearing furs. He has a hair helmet. She has a hairstyle which is just as dated but more difficult to describe. There is a castle in the background.
First Line: "Text of a letter from the American journalist James Emmerson Tree, to his cousin Audrey in Denver."
Best part: I couldn't put it down.
Worst part: I couldn't stay with it for too long without getting sad. What a bleak time in human history!
Grade: B+
Recommended for: Fans of vampire fiction looking for something a little different. Anyone interested in German history between the World Wars.
Related Reads: Hotel Transylvania, which started the series, Anno Dracula by Kim Newman, Red Death by PN Elrod

A word to those who have not read Yarbro before - this is not your typical vampire story. Yarbro excels in realistic historical fiction that just happens to have a vampire in it. Most of the biting happens off the page, or is only alluded to briefly. There's some action and sex, but the plot is driven by people and history. Extensive correspondence related to the plot is included in her novels, and the many references to history and art in these works are not spoon-fed to the reader. The books are slow, intellectual, but very satisfying.

He has had many names, many titles, many homes. The noble vampire Saint Germain travels the world searching for love and safety. He rewards those around him with riches, protection, and understanding. But to be immortal in a mortal world is to live always with tragedy and danger.
In this installment in the award-winning series, Saint-Germain escapes from a Russian prison and returns to the schloss in Germany he left behind years ago. On the way, he finds a traumatized young girl with no memory of her origins, and makes her his ward. He makes friends - the Russian duchess Irina Andreivna, mourning the loss of her family, the rowdy Schnaubel family, whose religion puts them at risk, and the gently-born Gudrun Ostneige, married to a disabled war veteran. But Weimar Germany is in a time of great change and volatility. Can anyone survive the coming conflagration?

This book is beautiful, delicious, wonderfully written. When you come to page 690, and feel sad rather than relieved or accomplished, then you have found an author who truly excels in writing long works. I wanted the story to continue. I loved the characters. I almost want to start reading it again right now. I wish there was a sequel. My B+ is gladly given.
Up until now, Hotel Transylvania, set in France in the 1700's, has been my favorite Saint-Germain, but Tempting Fate gave it a run for its money. I reread HT partly so I could be complete in this review, and it was still great, and it was great in a different way - but Tempting Fate is better. It can also double as a doorstop or blunt weapon.
Tags: genre: fantasy, genre: fiction, subject: history

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