Monstrous city

Hide Me Among the Graves, by Tim Powers, Corvus, RRP£14.99, 511 pages

Tim Powers’ 1989 novel The Stress of Her Regard was a sprawling Gothic masterpiece that roamed across Europe in the tumultuous early years of the 19th century and featured several of the Romantic poets. This sequel, set 50 years on, turns its attention to the Pre-Raphaelites, specifically the Rossettis and Swinburne, and evokes a London of sewers, seances, laudanum and ghosts.

John Crawford, a vet, learns of a daughter whom he conceived unknowingly with a prostitute. The girl, Johanna, is coveted by Dr Polidori, Christina Rossetti’s long-dead uncle and an associate of Byron and Shelley, whose soul has become bound with a Nephilim – an elemental vampiric monster. The race to save Johanna becomes a race to save London itself.

Powers conjures a rich mythology based on vampire lore. His narrative, steeped in the morbid poetry of the Pre-Raphaelites, blends literature, history and the supernatural. Powers is one of the best fantasy authors, here at the very top of his game.

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