Hide Me Among the Graves by Tim Powers (review)

English: Grave of Dante Gabriel Rossetti. 1828...

If this was a television period drama series (which it damn well should be – it pisses all over Downton Abbey and its ilk), Season 1 (13 episodes) would have been based on Powers’ earlier book The Stress of Her Regard (1989), which was a brilliant re-imagination of the lives of romantic poets, revealing that their bizarre behaviours and the odd events of their lives resulted from being beset by vampires (nephilim).

This is how I always read Powers, nowadays. I am watching the TV series in my head and loving every moment, every cliff-hanging episode closer. I don’t want to see movie versions of his books, because a movie version will always be a loose and probably useless adaptation (in the way that On Stranger Tides was defiled by the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise). No, I want to see a good, long-running TV series, to give the characters time to develop and the extraordinary events (which always fit into real world history as snugly as a pair of tight Victorian breeches) to unfold – and amaze the audience.

Powers has been blowing my mind for a long time now, and Declare is still my Desert Island book (and what a series that would make!), and he did vampires-and-poets long before Twiglet and Vamp Diaries and True Blood, long before Pride and Prejudice had zombies. The Stress of Her Regard is a superb read (if you can get hold of a copy), and Hide Me Among the Graves is its worthy sequel.

(Though I don’t think you have to have read the first book first, it’s not that kind of a sequel, thank goodness.)

So we’ve moved on from the Romantic poets, and we find ourselves among the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood, in a Victorian London replete with costermongers, mudlarks, street sweepers, hansom cabs, oranges and lemons, and the bells of St. Clements. And vampires.

Poets and Vampires, Season 2, sees some familiar names meet up with some familiar fictional characters. Byron’s friends John Polidori (author of the original vampire tale and inspiration for Bram Stoker) and Edward John Trelawney, are involved with veterinarian John Crawford, the son of Dr Michael Crawford, who was the hapless protagonist of Powers’ 1989 novel.

Episode One introduces us to Christina Rosetti and her brothers and sister, who are the nieces and nephews of the late Polidori, who is not as dead as he might be. Rosetti (who would go on to write the mysterious “Goblin Market”) inadvertently revives the dormant Polidori and brings trouble into the life of John Crawford, who has been told enough about the nephilim to act instinctively – whether this means throwing crushed garlic around or jumping into the Thames with a prostitute who happened to be passing. In Episode Two, we meet Trelawney, survivor of many adventures with his friend Byron – married many times, and now consorting around London with his mysterious mistress “Miss B”. Later on, we encounter, as well as Dante Gabriel, William, and Maria Rosetti, their friend Algernon Swinburne – another poet inspired and helped by the nephilim.

And this is where you scurry to Wikipedia to find out how much of this is true.

The answer? All of it! Probably.

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