Lord of the Dead: The Secret History of Byron

Tom Holland, Author, Dona Chernoff, Editor Pocket Books $23 (0p) ISBN 978-0-671-53425-7
Lord Byron as a vampire? That notion may not explain the aberrant behavior of the much-revered Romantic poet, but it definitely provides a racy foundation for Holland's engaging and sophisticated debut novel. The story begins in London in the present, as lovely young Rebecca Carville petitions her lawyer for the keys to the family crypt, where she hopes to find the sole existing copy of Byron's memoirs. Instead, she finds Byron himself, who proceeds to tell her the story of how he became a vampire during his journey to Greece. The first half of Byron's account remains within the conventions of the horror genre, as the great poet desperately fights the efforts of the powerful Greek vardoulacha, who eventually drains his blood. Once Byron begins to explore his new nature, however, Holland embarks on a remarkable literary journey, touching on how the poet's burden might have affected his relationships with the women in his life as well as his problematic dealings with Shelley. Other subplots recall the early Anne Rice novels, particularly the sections in which Byron tries to unite the vampires and help the Greeks in their revolt against the Turks. But the most compelling portions of the book probe the links between blood and family that surface when Byron discovers that he must take the life of a relative in order to maintain his youthful beauty. Both the period detail and the biographical material are exquisitely rendered, and the shocking revelation that brings the story full circle and places Rebecca Carville in extreme peril makes for a nice surprise ending. With this striking, highly original debut, Holland offers a valuable addition to the vampire legend. 75,000 first printing; $100,000 ad/promo; BOMC and QPB selection; simultaneous Simon & Schuster Audio. (Feb.)
Reviewed on: 03/04/1996
Release date: 03/01/1996
Genre: Fiction
Mass Market Paperbound - 978-0-671-87650-0
Mass Market Paperbound - 368 pages - 978-0-671-87649-4
Paperback - 336 pages - 978-0-671-02411-6
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-671-54775-2
Mass Market Paperbound - 341 pages - 978-0-671-53426-4
Downloadable Audio - 978-0-7435-4979-0
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