by Tabatha Hanly
The Pierced Heart by Lynn Shepherd takes a new look at a familiar story. The plot follows along much the same lines as the well-known Dracula. A man is sent on business to the castle-home of a nobleman in foreign parts, sees some suspicious behavior and promptly finds himself injured and committed, fleeing for home as fast as the impossibly-slow traveling methods of the time will allow. Once he returns to England, the man learns of some suspicious deaths; young women slain in an unaccountable way. He must then gather what allies he has and set out to stop the menace and save the beauties of England. Meanwhile, we learn the confounding tale of a young and beautiful woman who meets and is enthralled by the foreign nobleman, and follow her journeys with him through the medium of her diary. While the similarities may be striking, The Pierced Heart is by no means the same novel.
Who among us has not read Bram Stoker’s Dracula and shouted the pages, telling Johnathan Harker to get off his unsuspicious-tuckus and do some investigating? Who has not wished Dracula’s neighbor’s would get suspicious, notice at least one of the not-so-subtle signs, and take some action? Well, at last The Pierced Heart gives us some satisfaction. When Charles Maddox comes to the castle of Baron VonReisenberg and notes the man’s penchant for darkness, vicious pets, and solitary meals, he gets suspicious. When he hears the sounds of a woman in a supposedly empty wing, he gets up and investigates. When he is interrupted and sent back to his room, he does not give up, assume he was mistaken or feel bad for failing; he investigartes some more. Of course we should give our old Mr. Harker some credit- he didn’t have the investigative skills Maddox uses everyday as a private investigator. Nor did he have the police connections to be brought in on the gruesome deaths and begin investigating the English phenomenon in earnest as Maddox does. (I’ll leave it to you to learn how the other characters twist their classic roles).
Lynn Shepherd has augmented the tale with more than just active characters and new locations; she has incorporated an element of science and industry which show the technological advancements and fears of the 1850s and add an extra air of mystery to the tale. As we learn about the scientific discoveries which reshaped Victorian perspectives, we are also forced to wonder; is this a tale of a supernatural monster and his prey, or of a scientist and his subjects? Science and magic are interwoven so closely you will be wondering until the very last page.
The fast-paced mystery will ensnare monster and mystery-lovers alike as the action mounts, the mystery unfolds, and the chase begins.
The Pierced Heart is available for purchase Today!
*Not recommended for younger readers.