Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, Hotel Transylvania (Signet, 1978)
[originally posted 21Jan2002]
Chelsea Quinn Yarbro has been doing her thing for quite a while now, and doing it rather successfully. Nothing has brough her more success, or a wider readership, than the Comte de Saint-Germain chronicles, a series of books about an ageless vampire set against different timeframes. The whole series is well-known for its attention to detail and stunning descriptions of life at the various times and in the various places where Saint-Germain (and the main characters in the spinoff series that have sprung from this) has his adventures.
The series’ first novel in set in France in 1743, as Saint-Germain meets one of the great loves of his life, Madelaine de Montalia. Madelaine’s reaction to Saint-Germain’s rather bizarre history isn’t the usual fainting-and-horrified-looks one expects in a vampire novel, and thus the framework here lends itself more to gothic romance than it does to straight-out horror. However, the horror elements find their way into the book in a subplot involving the renewal of a thirty-year-old enmity between Saint-Germain and another French petty noble, Saint Sebastien.
While there is certainly enough going on here to make Hotel Transylvania a stand-alone novel in itself, it’s obvious that Yarbro was gearing up to make Saint-Germain into a series character, and so many passages in the book have the sense of being a setup for a larger picture. This is not necessarily a bad thing, though other authors have drawn out the necessary setup into more than one novel to make it less obtrusive. The longstanding success of the series shows that the fans don’t have a problem with it; it’s doubtful readers of horror fiction new to Yarbro and/or Saint-Germain will, either. *** ½