Tuesday, August 3, 2010


Read 7/29/10 - 8/3/10
3 Stars - Recommended to readers familiar with genre

Another sleeper. Slow to get going, content to tread water for as long as humanly possibly, almost to the point of exhausting the reader... and terminates in a less than satisfactory finale.

That sounds kind of harsh, doesn't it? I apologize. I do. But I want to be honest and up front with you, fellow book lovers. I don't want you to go into this with the wrong set of expectations. You will thank me for it. I promise.

Strangely enough, this is the second book I have read in a row that was praised by Audrey Niffenegger (The other was Your Presence Is Requested At Suvanto) which received a less than raving review from me. I say it is strange because I have enjoyed both of Niffenegger's own novels immensely, and find it surprising that she and I don't share similar opinions of the books we read. But that is really neither here nor there.

Fangland begs you to believe that the novel is about vampires. Look at the cover - see those winged animals circling the city's skyline? See the blood splattered across the moon? Hell, even the leading line on the back cover asks "Are the New York offices of The Hour being taken over by a vampire?" Allow me to answer that question for you. No, they are not. Whatever is planning to take over the offices of The Hour is no vampire. At least, no vampire I have ever read about.

Ion Torgu is a notorious Eastern European crime boss. Rumors abound that the man might not truly exist. Evangeline Harker (no, no relation to the famed Jonathan Harker of the classic Dracula story) is sent to Romania to try to get some information on Torgu's whereabouts, and if she can play her cards right, land an exclusive interview with him for her producers over at The Hour.

And oh does she play them right! Torgu picks her up at her hotel and escorts her to his secluded creepy hotel in the middle of the Transylvanian woods (sounds like Dracula, looks like Dracula, even feels like Dracula, but make no mistake, it is not like Dracula), where he tells her they will enter into private negotiations until they agree to the terms of the interview.
He drinks wine with her, he eats chicken and garlic with her, he admires her necklace - a crucifix dangling from a silver chain, he shows her his rancid collection of religious "art", he has a reflection in the mirror they pass when he shows her to her room for the night....

Strange things begin to take place within the hotel... Evangeline is locked up tight in her room during daylight hours, she is not allowed to place phone calls or send emails to anyone, she is upsetting Torgu by asking too many questions and being a tad bit too stubborn. She attempts to escape - each time seeing things she is not meant to see, and each time finding herself back in her room, worse for the wear. Weeks pass....

Back in the offices of The Hour, while investigating Evangeline's disappearance, strange tapes appear that show nothing more than hours of an empty chair. Mysterious crates arrive that contain "archeological artifacts" and put the T.V. station's employees on edge. There is an unmistakeable white noise and whispering that pollutes the entire twentieth floor, seeping into everyone's head, invading their dreams and affecting their waking lives.

And suddenly, months later, Evangeline reappears. She is found in a convent, unable to talk about what she survived, barely aware of who she is, yet determined to return to her position at The Hours.

Is she prepared for the changes that have taken place in the office? Does she know what is trying to take over? More importantly, does she know how to stop it?

Once you come to terms with the story, and realize that this is not a tale of blood sucking vampires with fangs, the book actually has quite a few things going for it. The author tells the story through emails, journals, first person accounts, and third person narratives which allows the reader an opportunity to experience everything that is taking place. The different character perspectives added additional depth, though at times this technique seemed to slow the pace of the novel even further.

Chalk this one up as another novel that failed to meet my expectations. I know I would have enjoyed it more had I not been waiting more than 3/4 of the book for the author to show me the vampires. I know, I know... I need to just get over it.

It's such a shame though.

Because there is no explanation of what really WAS trying to take over the T.V. station.

If there is anyone out there who is going to give this novel a go, or has already read it, feel free to comment here and let me know what you thought. Were you are confused as I was?

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