I am a deep and passionate lover of historical fiction. Since I picked up Virgin: Prelude to the Throne by Robin Maxwell, I’ve been devouring as much of the genre as I can, and trying to expand beyond the typical ‘royal’ books that seem to dominate the shelves.
I’ve always had a passion for historical figures who have taken on some infamous duality. In my own work, Elizabeth Bathory is a major player, and so I am always on the look out for Bathory related fiction, as well as others who have that similar duality, Dracula being the most famous of them all.
Very little is written, fiction wise, about the real Dracula. So, when I came across Vlad: The Last Confession by C.C Humphreys, I was beyond excited. And from the first pages I was enthralled, and amazed, at the power of C.C Humphreys’s prose and how well he is able to pull the reader in.
Firstly, a bit about the book itself. It’s told from the perspective of the three people closest to Vlad: the women he loved, his best friend, and his confessor, as they tell the story of this ruthless man to testify that he is, in fact, dead. Together they tell the amazing story of Vlad’s life, adding an interesting perspective that could only come from the people who were closest to him.
Vlad The Impaler
You are drawn into his world, from his early life of being prisoner of the Sultan with his brother, Radu, to his life as ruler of Wallachia. The prose really drawers you into the beauty of the country and the struggles of its ruling family. How it comes to an end was an absolute surprise to me, and I think will surprise others!
Humphreys is an incredibly skilled writer, diving head first into some of the more brutal scenes (I had to put the book down a few times when Vlad was learning how to impale…yikes!) and weaving an absolute lyrical tapestry around Vlad the real man, his life, his loves, and his world.
Vlad was a brilliant but incredibly ruthless man, and Humphreys really builds a background of how and why he became the way he was. In many ways, the reader feels some sympathy for him. Sympathy for someone who history has painted as a madman? That is what makes this book a game changer, in my opinion – only an unbelievable talent could cause a reader to feel sympathy for someone so brutal.
Readers who are interested in something beyond the standard ‘royal’ fiction should take a look at this book. But, be prepared! It’s not for the fainthearted.
Fans of Vlad the Impaler and of Dracula should most definitely check this book out. It’s a learning experience, not only of Vlad’s life and times but what makes a great historical fiction novel.
Read more on Elizabeth Bathory here