Tim Powers is the master of the historical magical fantasy novel. Weaving together fragments of historical truth with magical arcana, any Powers novel is a treat. Declare, for example, connected little known, but true, facts about Kim Philby, Lawrence of Arabia, and Communist Russia with djinn and demons to create a wonderfully atmospheric novel. In Hide Me Among the Graves, he does the same for the Victorian poets, Vampires, and Boudica, the early English queen of the Iceni who razed London when it was controlled by the Romans.
Christina Rossetti and Dante Gabriel Rossetti, also historical Victorian poets, are haunted by the vampiric ghost of John Polidori, the (historical) physician to Lord Byron, and author of one of the earliest Vampire stories in English. Being haunted by a Vampire, or bitten by one, seems to give one the power to create poetry of the highest quality, not accessible to normal humans. Byron, Shelley, and Algernon Swinburne (who figures prominently in the novel), all are under the sway of vampires, or are vampires themselves. The various excerpts of poetry selected as chapter headings by Powers definitely seem inspired by the direct experience of the supernatural.
The central characters of Hide Me Among the Graves are the veterinarian Crawford and former prostitute McKee, who had a daughter after being thrown together after an encounter with the supernatural, and try to save their daughter from the ghost of Polidori. Victorian England is painted vividly in the novel, and Crawford and McKee experience the usual supernatural trials that await any Tim Powers protagonists. They are assisted by the (again historical) Edward John Trelawny, the associate of Byron, who is himself trapped between the race of Vampires and humans.
As with most Powers' novels, there is a well-developed and internally consistent logic to the supernatural and magic that drives the novel. The arcana of Vampires and magical talismans are carefully woven into real history. The result is a fine, enjoyable novel. Perhaps not of the same quality as Last Call or Declare, but close. If you love those novels you will enjoy Hide Me Among the Graves.
[I received a copy of Hide Me Among The Graves as part of the Early Reviewers program]