Some tell of a great city of black jasper which has streets and buildings like any other city but is eternally in mourning, enveloped by perpetual gloom Some call it Selene, some Vampire City, but the vampires refer to it among themselves by the name of the Sepulchre To destroy the dreaded vampire lord Otto Goetzi, writer Ann Radcliffe, Merry Bones the Irishman, and Grey Jack her faithful servant, launch an all out attack on Selene We can easily see in Vampire City the ultimate literary ancestor of Buffy the Vampire Slayer Brian Stableford Paul F val 1816 1887 was the author of numerous popular swashbuckling novels and one of the fathers of the modern crime thriller Brian Stableford has publishedthan fifty novels and two hundred short stories Vampire City was written in 1867 thirty years before Bram Stoker s Dracula and is one of three classic vampire stories also available from Black Coat Press. When I read Blackcoat Press s edition of Feval s Knightshade, I was severely disappointed that the contents of the story couldn t match the surreal creepiness of the cover, but part of me doubted that any 19th Century author could come up with something that weird Even Maupassant at his most insane didn t come up with imagery that could match that But lo, Vampire City, which sports equally bizarre cover art, actually manages to deliver.The story by itself is weird, featuring Gothic horror novelist Ann Radcliffe and her trusty manservant Grey Jack pursuing an evil vampire across half of Europe But this isn t a vampire like anything we d recognize Written a quarter century before Dracula, Feval s conception of vamps goes in radically different directions Their victims don t simply turn into new vampires but rather become puppets that the main vampire can control Vampires can also spawn doppelgangers, both of themselves and their puppets, and turn into spiders, and they glow in the dark.And they have their own city hidden way where the Balkan and Italian peninsulas come together, full of architecture that s straight out of Lovecraft The imagery associated with vampires in the book is bizarre in the extreme My favorite bit is when Radcliffe and Grey Jack stumble into an inn that s been taken over by the vampires In the common room they see a tableau that includes a faceless woman and a dog with human faces, all completely still until the turn of the hour, at which point they get up and move around like figures in some great cuckoo clock.This is without a doubt the most original vampire novel to come out since Polidori invented the genre, and it s worth reading to remind us of how stilted and hackneyed modern authors have made the concept. DNF 43% Almost comically uninteresting and impossible to get into PaRoDiEs don t work for me, at all. Vampire City is an obscure work of horror comedy metafiction written in France circa 1870, and if that description doesn t pique your interest, what are you doing on Goodreads Paul F val imagines Ann Radcliffe, the English Gothic novelist, running away from home on the morning of her wedding day to rescue two of her childhood friends, who have gotten caught up in the schemes of a nefarious vampire F val s vampires glow green at nighttime, have their own civilization based in Vampire City, and can duplicate themselves It s a far cry from the typical Bram Stoker influenced vampire although the section where Ann and her companions rely upon a vampire s victim to guide them to Vampire City is reminiscent of the end of Dracula , when Mina uses her telepathic connection with Dracula to guide the heroes to his castle.The villain s scheme is a bit confusing and all of the characters are one dimensional, but the tongue in cheek narration is full of gems like Knowing themselves to be guilty of impropriety, Ned and Corny kept their intention to elope hidden from their friends Please do not think me capable of excusing in any degree something which is not done, but I feel bound to point out that they had to contend with an unscrupulous fraudulent bankrupt, a female living in sin, and a vampire It has to be admitted that their situation was difficult Not necessarily a must read, but pretty entertaining, and an excellent reminder that the 19th century was far weirder and funnier than we usually imagine it to be. Odd mish mash of vampire story, gothic melodrama and fantasy.Very meta, as the gothic writer, Ann Radcliffe is one of the characters in the book Yet, despite being talked about like she s the hero, she spends the whole book acting like a damsel.Most of the work, and hero ing is done by the stereotypical Irish servant of one of the other main characters.I have the vague feeling this was originally done as a satire, as all the characters are such obvious types from gothic novels, but the suspense is real, the vampires are treated like real menaces and the idea of the vampire city itself is a great piece of fantasy.So, it might be Feval was an ideas man than a strong character writer.Fun read and an interesting look at the vampire novel from the days when it was still being invented. I really need to read some of the works by Ann Radcliffe, because jumping into Vampire City without any background into her work was like trying mend a broken bone without any background in first aid The narration of 97 drove me freaking insane, were it not for Merry Bones and my curiosity of Selene I am doubtful that I would have finished it With that out of the way however the vampires were pretty interesting and unique to say the least, and the idea of an intradimensional city full of monsters is pretty damn cool in itself Merry Bones the wonderful Irishman, however much the narrator despised the Irish, is the greatest and most well developed character of the entire book He as well as Polly Bird and Goetzi make you forget that Ann is the main character on than one occasion, making her seem like cheese to bait readers into giving this small novel a try Selene was awesome, the bizarre structures, the separation of class, the odd weakness, the use of creatures such as tigers and bats as cavalry was an awesome idea and helped me finish the novel Now the ending, it is the biggest middle finger to a reader, but that s all the details I am going to share I hope I didn t dissuade anybody from reading this, because it is, in it s own way, a fun and interesting read I just didn t like the narration and the kick in the pants ending. Another 19th century vampire novel down Vampire City contains some comical elements that were refreshing amongst the darker vampire texts I ve been studying It s not a difficult read, and I enjoyed the overly bizarre and coincidental events and characters This text pre dates Dracula therefore, the normal vampire characteristics do not apply and Paul F val p re creates a unique type of vampire. For a book written during the 1850s, this is a surprisingly modern absurdest parody of vampire and gothic fiction Given the time period, it s a little offensive the Irish stereotypes were a little off putting but saying that, it s still amazing relevant to the gothic vampire genre It s a pity then that I don t like such parodies or that it doesn t raise itself above modern pieces. A horror comedy, supposedly showing events which led Ann Radcliffe to write Mysteries of Udolpho This is a pre D racula vampire story and as such none of the usual vampire rules apply The story is told to the author by a servant, who heard it from Miss Radcliffe These layers of removal from the actual events make it feel like reading myth or urban legend and allows the reader to easily ignore any errors or contradictions that might arrive in the plot You would think that this distance from events would however be detrimental to any sense of horror but this is not the case due to the surreal and nightmarish form s of horror which the author uses, its almost Lovecraftian at times.Towards the end things do go downhill a little, it feels like maybe this started as a pure vampire story and the gothic satire was added later on, it doesn t quite mesh.One aspect i particularly liked was that our main action hero is irish Much comedy is derived from this fact given that the story is being told by someone english, allowing the story to make fun of english prejudices I think this story would be a great piece to read alongside Carmilla and Dracula. A terrible book, but a very enjoyable one Nothing beats 19th century French pulp horror fiction when it comes to crazy Also interesting as a vampire novel written before Dracula and therefore free to make up much of its mythology.