Monday, January 4, 2010

Girl on Book Action: Vlad: The Last Confession by C.C. Humphreys

Vlad: The Last Confession by C.C. Humphreys
ISBN: 978-1-4091-0372-1

From the back cover:

Dracula. A name of horror, depravity and the darkest sensuality.

Yet the real Dracula was just as alluring, just as terrifying, his story not of a monster but of a man...and a contradiction. For the one they called "The Devil's Son" was both tyrant and lawgiver, crusader and mass slaughterer, torturer and hero, lover and murderer.

My thoughts:

Let me start by saying that I picked this up on a whim at the bookstore one day, because I felt like reading some historical fiction and this didn't seem like it would be as romance oriented as some of the others that I've read / heard about. Also, being a vampirologist by trade reading a book about Vlad the Impaler is almost research, even if it is a fictional story.

The story is at once intricate and surprising, but also predictable and generic - a contradiction in itself. Humphreys creates a fascinating, detailed world and it is clear that some research went into not only what is known about Vlad, but also about the time period and settings. I found that the characters were well-represented and their fates kept my interest, though the dialogue felt a little heavy-handed and took some getting used to at the beginning. The story kept me intrigued and I could barely put this book down, despite its flaws.

The things that bothered me were the generic elements, such as the love triangle, which felt fairly trite to me - and just made me think of King Arthur / Guinevere and Lancelot, but more brutal in some ways. The last section started to drag a little for me, and while the plot-twist toward the end was good, I'm not sure it justified dragging the novel out by another 80 pages after what I felt should have been the climax and subsequent end. I started to feel like the characters just didn't learn and I wanted hit them with an "I told you so!" stick. The actual end of the book was fairly gratifying, it was just finally getting there that was a bit frustrating.

One of the things that has sort of stuck with me is that in the afterword, Humphreys writes that he didn't want to humanize Vlad too much, because he committed these terrible things. If he was trying not to humanize him, I think he failed because I found this fictional Vlad Dracula to be pretty enigmatic and intriguing, but maybe I just like those kinds of men (Vampire Stalin, anyone?). And as much as I thought the love-story was a little generic, I did find it to be compelling.

Overall, I would say that if you're looking for a fairly quick read with some romance and battles, as well as a few plot twists and you know, people being impaled you should read this book, just don't expect it to be the best thing you've ever read. It's entertaining, but not necessarily profound literature.

Addendum: The picture is a woodcut of atrocities allegedly committed by Vlad Dracul. If you decide to read this novel, you will find that these propaganda productions are also addressed in the text.


  1. The historical aspect of this book appeals to me. Not too sure about the romance though. excellant review.

  2. The romance isn't central to the story, but it does add an extra layer and it's not badly done even if the love-triangle is a little cliche.