Thursday, March 20, 2008

Fangland by John Marks

Fangland by John Marks
Penguin Books, 2007
Horror; 385 pgs

Started: 02/20/2008
Completed: 03/02/2008
Rating: * (Good +)

First Sentence:
To Whom It May Concern:
First, as happy prelude to an otherwise grim prospect, thanks are in order.

Reason for Reading: I was quite enamored with Bram Stoker's Dracula when I read it, and after reading the description of this book, I just had to give it a try. This is a Curled Up With A Good Book selection.

Comments: Newly engaged and with wedding plans dancing in her head, the last thing Evangeline Harker wants to do is travel on assignment to Romania where she will be meeting with a man believed to be a major player in Eastern Europe's organized crime organization. After checking into her hotel in Bucharest, Evangeline makes the acquaintance of a fellow American, Clementine Spence, who describes herself as more of a change agent than a missionary. The two strike up a tentative friendship and become travel companions for the trip to Brasov, where Evangeline will be meeting her contact.

The road is not an easy one as the pair drives through Romania and into Transylvania. Weary and tired, they arrive at the hotel where they are met by an odd and rather unattractive looking man. Evangeline is sure this must be the contact who will introduce her to the infamous Ion Torgu. Clemmie senses something is wrong, but her warning falls on deaf ears. Evangeline should have listened to Clemmie, however, she instead goes off with the man, sealing her fate.

Ion Torgu is ugly and despicable, and yet there is something alluring about him just the same. Evangeline and the reader cannot help but be taken in. He plays the role of weak well, wanting to be liked and in need of constant reassurance. Underneath that, however, lies dark power and strength unmatched by anyone. He wants something from Evangeline, and he is determined to take it if she will not give it to him willingly.

Meanwhile, back in New York things are not going as smoothly as usual. Evangeline's disappearance and lack of contact with anyone, including her family, have put everyone on edge. Tapes arrive in the mail from Romania only nothing of import appears to be on them, only an empty wooden chair. Whispers float in the air of the news offices on the 20th floor. A strange illness seems to have infected the news staff; death and evil hang in the air.

Long time correspondent Austen Trotta is at first oblivious to what is going on around him in the newsroom, although he is greatly concerned about the safety of his associate producer, Evangeline. It is not until much later that he realizes he should have listened to the warnings of editor, Julia Barnes, a competent and clear-headed woman who picks up on the wrongness in the office early on. And then there is Stimson Beevers, the young production associate who takes Evangeline's disappearance the hardest outside of her own family.

Evangeline, believed to be dead, is discovered in a Transylvanian monastery where she had been living for the past several months. Evangeline is no longer the naive and sweet natured woman she once was. A darkness hangs over her now. Hope is ignited on the 20th floor at the news of her return, and yet the nightmare is not yet over.

Author John Marks uses his knowledge of working in a newsroom to set the stage for his terrifying tale, describing the inner workings of what it takes to put a successful news program together and the direction, for better or worse, similar news shows have taken today. Each character and their role within the production of the news show play integral parts in the story as it is told. The cast of characters is well drawn; many of who are more than what they first appear. They each have their own histories, their own stories, some of which plays into the events that will come as the novel progresses.

The author draws from Bram Stoker's famous Dracula novel, piecing his story together in a similar fashion. The story is told through a compilation of journal entries and e-mail correspondence of varying characters, offering a more full picture of events as they unfold. Some of the milestones in Fangland are echoes of its predecessor, Dracula. Likewise, the roles of some of the characters may seem familiar to those who have read both; and yet the story is very different. John Marks has written a different sort of vampire tale.

Fangland is an entertaining and well-crafted horror novel. John Marks is a gifted writer who takes a classic story, turns in on its ear and makes it all his own. The author lays the groundwork, slowly building in intensity, but never lacking in suspense. Fangland is both seductive and horrifying with a climax that must not be missed. Originally published on Curled Up With A Good Book at © Wendy Runyon, 2008.

Be sure and visit the the author's website for information about his other books.


  1. Ooh great review! I remember seeing this book everywhere when it first came out but hadn't really heard much about it in the blog community. It sounds like a fun read and an interesting take on a classic. It's going on my list :)

  2. Mine, too. As Iliana remarked, it sounds like an interesting take on an old favorite! Thanks for the review!

  3. I agree, this is a great review. I think I might have to pick this one up soon.

  4. Oooh, this sounds just like my kind of book. Thank you for yet another fabulous review :)

  5. Another great review, Wendy! I've this book in my pile and now I can't wait to dive into it! ;P

  6. Oh it sounds really interesting but I never could sit through Dracula :(

  7. This sounds really good! I am going to have to add it to my list! Excellent review!
    Happy Easter!!

  8. Thanks for the review! I've been a longtime fan of Stoker's Dracula, reading it during one languid summer years ago. I've read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova and really enjoyed it. I added Fangland to my book list as top priority - it sounds fascinating.

  9. This sounds like my kind of book so thanks lots for the review! I really enjoyed reading Dracula last year as well and can't believe I had put it off for so long. I feel bad for not commenting on your other posts recently, I am still reading regularly I just don't really read crime novels. Maybe I will branch out one day...

  10. Dracula et al is so not my thing but you make the book sound so interesting, Wendy, I'll proably pick the dang thing up.

  11. Thanks, Iliana. It was a fun book to read. Usually I shy away from books like this that take an old classic and add a different spin to it, but I was excited about trying this one from the first I heard about it. Nothing will compare to the original, of course, but this was an entertaining novel just the same.

    Jenclair - I hope you will like it if you give it a try!

    Nikki - Thank you. I am such a fan of Bram Stoker's Dracula and this could have been a big flop. I was glad the author took it in such a different direction and kept the similarities between the two on a minor scale.

    Nymeth - Thanks. I think you would enjoy this one.

    Melody - I look forward to reading your thoughts on it when you get to it. Watch, everyone will hate it when they read it. LOL

    Jen - It's different enough that you might like this even if you didn't like Dracula. This is definitely more of a modern type horror novel.

    April - Thanks, so much. I don't read a lot of horror books, but this was a fun one. I hope you have a good Easter too.

    Laura - This isn't quite as subtle the way Dracula and The Historian are, but if you liked those two, you may well like this one as I did. It's not quite as good as either of the other too, mind you, but then they are hard to top (in my opinion anyway). :-) Thank you for stopping by!

    Rhinoa - I was kicking myself for putting Dracula off so long too. I really liked it.

    Don't feel bad about not commenting. My reading has been too often single minded lately.

    Carrie K - If you like reading horror novel, you might like this. If not, you should probably skip it. I'd hate for you to waste your time on it if its not something you would like, no matter how interesting I make it sound. ;-)

  12. You know it's funny. I was reading this review on Curled Up With a Good Book and was thinking this sounds good! when I got to the end and read your name! This is going on the wishlist!

  13. Jaimie - That's too funny! I hope you do like it if you read it. It was very entertaining.


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