The Pierced Heart, A New Twist on an Old Tale

20707936The Pierced Heart
Delacorte Press, 2014

I’m sure anyone who has been enjoying Lynn Shepherd’s Charles Maddox series will agree that with each book her skills as a writer become stronger and stronger. The “Pierced Heart” is her best effort to date. Not only is Shepherd coming into her own as a writer, her twist on Dracula is a fast paced, engaging ride. I read it in one sitting.

Charles, our reluctant hero, visits the estate of an Austrian nobleman on behalf of Oxford. Charles is asked to determine the man’s character after the Austrian offers a substantial donation to the University. Once there, Charles quickly finds the man is not all that he seems. There are some serious questions to be answered. Is he a truly a nobleman who has the means and time to devote to natural philosophy or is he a mad scientist? As the story moves from Austria to the streets of London, Charles is compelled to find the answers.

Shepherd follows the original Dracula plot to a point; it is here where her imagination shines. Just when we readers think we know where she is going, the story takes a decided turn. There are just enough twists to keep readers guessing while retaining the original unsettling mood.

Shepherd doesn’t just give us a twist on the vampire story; she offers comment on Victorian values and how they affected women. Not only were they victims of violent times, they were at the mercy of the misogynist attitude towards them. Women were denied voices, no matter how loudly they screamed out in the night.

My only complaint is the inconsistency in the narration. I would have liked it if Shepherd had kept to one style. The abrupt change pulled me out of the story. But once the initial shock was over, I was quickly pulled back in.

With “The Pierced Heart” we finally have a three-dimensional character in Charles. Readers learn more about his back-story and two secrets are revealed. Though one is something Charles seems to be hiding from himself. The novel ends with a twist for our hero. There is yet another question to be answered. I can only hope Shepherd shares this answer with her readers very soon.

I’d like to thank Librarything for the opportunity to read this book.