Set amidst the churches and graveyards of Victorian London, this dark fantasy throws together a cast of Pre-Raphaelite poets, painters, and muses with menacing Lovecraftian other-dimensional monsters.
Some of the characters are historical: the poet Christina Rossetti and her brother Gabriel; Gabriel’s laudanum-addled wife Lizzie Siddal (probably best known as the model for Millais’s drowned Ophelia); and septuagenarian adventurer Edward Trelawny, one-time crony of Byron and Shelley. Some of the characters are original such as a hapless veterinary doctor being dragged about London by a reformed prostitute who’s just informed him that they had a daughter together who is in mortal danger, so run!
And some of the characters are spirits in approximately-human form, monstrously old and homicidally jealous. Once you have drawn the attention of these, you can expect to remain single because, in order to keep you to themselves, they will destroy the lives of your kin, your spouse, and your children. On the other hand, while you have their malevolent attention, you will write truly inspired, ageless romantic verse (which, for some poets, is an end that justifies any means).
And these are the stakes: a child, the Rossetti family, and the fate of London itself, menaced by monsters from a dark and violent past.
It’s the details of this supernatural adventure that make it click, including the sights, sounds, and smells of London. I love the way Powers weaves together fantastical reasons for historical events; it helps to have characters like Gabriel Rossetti, who did, in fact, bury his poetry with his lamented wife but later exhume her coffin to get the poems back. With seances, automatic writing, consultations with ghosts on the Thames, heart-stopping encounters in and under cemeteries, and jokes about bad poets, Powers relieves moments of delicious creepiness with glints of dry and deadpan humor.
For fans of old-fashioned, eerie horror and ghouls-by-gaslight adventure: if you enjoyed Martha Wells’s The Death of the Necromancer or Sarah Monette’s The Bone Key, this should be right up your alley.
Check the WRL catalog for Hide Me Among the Graves.