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Debra Hamel is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.


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THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
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THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
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PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
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Marks, John: Fangland

  Amazon  

4 stars

John Marks's Fangland is, in short, a Dracula updated for the modern age. Evangeline Harker (note the last name), an Associate Producer for The Hour, a 60 Minutes-like news show, travels alone to Romania to scout out a story. (Marks used to be a producer for 60 Minutes. His familiarity with the behind-the-scenes world of broadcasting fuels much of the story.) In Romania Evangeline meets up with the physically repulsive Ion Torgu, Eastern Europe's enigmatic crime lord. From the first, however, even before Torgu's appearance in the story, there is something forbidding about the journey. Eventually, the dark suspicion of the book's early chapters gives way to more open threats and then blatant violence. Finally the evil that is Torgu is translated from Romania to lower Manhattan: the pit exposed by the terrorist attacks of 9/11 appeals to him. And Torgu begins to infect with his peculiar madness a new continent's worth of souls, starting with Evangeline's co-workers at The Hour.

Like Bram Stoker's Dracula, Fangland is an epistolary novel, told from multiple perspectives and via different means--Evangeline's first-person account, a production assistant's emails, another producer's journal. There are other intentional similarities with Stoker's book as well, some of them with a modern-day twist: Evangeline is housed in the penthouse of a decrepit hotel rather than the tower of a decrepit castle; a pair of male monsters haunts the halls rather than Dracula's undead seductressess (another reversal of sexes in the book); and like Stoker's Johathan Harker, Evangeline has left a fiancé back home. But the book is more than just a reiteration of the Dracula story. It's very rich, bursting with details that add to the sense of general decay, of miasma, wherever the Romanian Torgu has left his mark.

Marks's novel is ill-served by its name. "Fangland" suggested to me, at least, that this brightly-bound novel (see its original cover as published by Vintage) would be a light-hearted romp through vampire lore. It's anything but that. The book is an engrossing read: Marks has created a whole world between its covers. It's hard not to be impressed. Fangland is also a tough slog, however: it can be confusing, and it's certainly over-long. But by the time you find yourself wishing the author had lopped 100 pages off the manuscript prior to publication, it's too late to stop reading.

Comments

1.

Great review, Debra - really enticing. I agree about that title. It would be put me off. It sounds comedic.

2.

Thank you, Clare!

3.

Fangland is in my TBR pile. I liked your review.

4.

Thanks! How are things?

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