RogerBW's Blog

Thorn, Fred Saberhagen 20 May 2024

1980 horror, fourth in Saberhagen's loose Dracula series. "Mr Thorn" is out to get hold of a painting from the 1400s, and other people are foolish enough to get in his way.

Much as in An Old Friend of the Family (to which this is a direct sequel), this is mostly nasty powerful people being nasty and powerful to people who can't resist, until Dracula turns up to be more powerful at them. But also lots of people die in a variety of inventive ways, most of them women. For me at least the trick to enjoyment is to concentrate on the adventure story of the first part.

Alternating chapters deal with the background to the painting and why it's of such emotional importance, and of course there's another Great Love or two for Dracula. The historical material is particularly enjoyable for the background, which feels authentic—the dying days of Pius II and his attempt to drum up a crusade against the Ottomans, and the Medici ascendancy in Florence.

But nobody here is really much of a character, even Dracula himself, and that's what I miss; I'd feel more involved if these people had personalities that were more than sketched in with broad strokes. I fear that as with An Old Friend of the Family later imitators have done this sort of thing better.

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See also:
An Old Friend of the Family, Fred Saberhagen

Previous in series: Old Friend of the Family, An | Series: Dracula

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