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Carpathia Cover Picture

Carpathia

Matt Forbeck

Published 2012              307 pages

Summary (from the book jacket)

It’s Titanic meets 30 Days of Night.

When the lucky survivors of the world’s most infamous maritime disaster were plucked out of the freezing ocean by the steamship Carpathia, they thought their problems were over.

But something is sleeping in the darkest recesses of their rescue ship. Something old. Something hungry.

The Review

Carpathia is a delightful mash-up of Dracula and the sinking of the Titanic, published in time to coincide with the 100th anniversary of the Titanic’s ill-fated maiden voyage. No doubt that there will be a slew of Titanic themed books, TV films and documentaries this year but I doubt any will be so much fun as Carpathia.

Obviously the late-Victorian time period of Bram Stoker’s classic novel Dracula and the early 20th Century setting of the Titanic disaster don’t quite match. Author, Matt Forbeck, addresses this problem by creating a cast from the descendants of the original Dracula characters. We have Abraham (Abe) Holmwood, Quincey (Quin) Harker and Lucy Steward. In an echo of Stoker’s original novel both Quin and Abe are in love with Lucy and vying for her hand in marriage. Carpathia Lucy, unlike the original Lucy of Dracula, is not an incorrigible flirt but a modern woman of the 20th Century – expounding the virtues of women’s rights and the suffragette movement.

These three friends are first class passengers on the Titanic ocean liner travelling to New York. When calamity strikes Lucy is packed on board a life boat and Abe and Quin are left to fend for themselves on the sinking ship. Carpathia is a pacy novel, it is driven forward at rocket speed by its virtually non-stop action, and when the action lulls there is no shortage of character driven drama to take up the pace. Even so, for me the most exciting and compelling scenes were from the earlier part of the novel which deals with the events around the Titanic and its sinking. There is so much opportunity for heroic action, drama and tragedy there that the vampires seem a superfluous addition.

The remaining two-thirds of the book cover events that happen once the survivors have been transferred to the Carpathia. (In real life the Carpathia was the first rescue ship to arrive for the Titanic but what a great name for a ship with a cargo of vampires!) Abe and Quin are reunited with Lucy but then mysterious passenger disappearances on the Carpathia lead to the eventual discovery that vampires are feeding on the crew and passengers.

The vampires are in keeping with Bram Stoker’s established Dracula mythology – shape shifting, crucifix fearing, highly combustible by day and coffin dwelling by night. However, they are not much like the vampires of 30 Days of Night. They are not so much monstrous than they are bickering, argumentative, and frankly irritating. Dushko, the vampire in charge, is having problems keeping his coven in line. Cheeky Irish vampire, Brody Murtagh, won’t follow orders and keeps leading the other vampires astray – inciting them to insubordination and mischief aboard ship when they were supposed to hiding in their coffins in the cargo hold. Maybe I’ve read too many vampire stories and have vampire fatigue but I found these vampires to be just tiresome. I wanted to send the beleaguered Dushko on a leadership/management course and send Brody for a time-out in the naughty corner. This probably isn’t the reaction the author intended.

Obviously vampires are evil and must be destroyed, which fuels the action for the majority of the story, but my heart really wasn’t in watching their demise. Still for all my griping Carpathia is fast-paced, easy reading and whether you pity the vampires or not, there is plenty of dramatic entertainment and exciting action here – even if the real-life horror of the Titanic easily trumps that of fictional vampires any day.

LoveVampires Review Rating:

Review Rating: 3.5 star out of 5

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