Sunday, August 14, 2011

New Pulp: Viktoriana by Wayne Reinagel

Wayne Reinagel’s epic gothic horror novel, Viktoriana, is a tour de force entertainment encompassing a splendid cast caught up in a wild plot that held me spellbound. The back cover blurb only hints at the intricate plot: “Nine incredibly unique individuals. Trapped in a deadly battle between an ancient evil and the vampire nations. Mankind’s last hope...” well that’s putting it mildly. Those incredibly unique individuals happen to be H. Rider Haggard, Arthur Conan Doyle, Jules Verne, H. G. Wells, Mary Shelley, Harry Houdini, Bram stoker, Nikola Telsa, and Edgar Allen Poe. Adding to this brutal menagerie are Countess Elizabeth Bathory, Varney the Vampire and Count Dracula. And more. Plenty more.

Reinagel has a blazing talent and it’s clear from page one that his storytelling skills are honed to perfection. Strong images set the scenes, the dialogue is appropriate, and his characters are believable albeit fictionalized incarnations of actual persons. The story unfolds at a fever-pitch with H. Rider Haggard encountering a vampire Queen in Africa. Reinagel knows his literary history in addition to the proper historical background as Haggard and company make their way through a series of adventuresome explorations. Viktoriana is loaded with wonderful literary references. For example, in chapter seventeen he has Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker at Stonehenge where readers will encounter a sly reference to Robert E. Howard’s Bran Mak Morn and even Stoker’s own “Lair of the White Worm.” Of course these literary references will slide past the uneducated novice literati but that shouldn’t detract from the excellent writing.

Viktoriana is told in five sections, sixty-six chapters and eight unique epilogues. The end papers include biographies of the characters, recommended reading and an historical time-line. I enjoyed all 472 pages of this epic story. Viktoriana has it all: actions scenes galore, moody locations, nefarious evil, stalwart heroes, bone crunching violence, blood drenched terror, and a labyrinthine plot that makes perfect sense in the end.

You can learn more about Wayne Reinagel and his “Modern Marvels” series of adventures novels by visiting his web-site HERE!

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