The Good: Mature, Excellent character, Strong dialogue, Entertaining
The Bad: Some typical vampirism, Pictures
The Basics: A must for the young adult fantasy-horror fan. Not much for adults, but younger adults might well enjoy the unique love story of the book.
I, Strahd was originally released as the first hardcover novel in TSR's Ravenloft series. I, Strahd came with the by-line "The Memoirs of a Vampire" and its publication radically predates the Twilight Saga. I picked up the book when I was in junior high school and it is one of the few books from that era in my life which has remained on my shelf. Long before bookstores were overwhelmed with vampire romance novels, P.N. Elrod offered I, Strahd which did little to humanize the primary Ravenloft protagonist.
Regardless, I, Strahd is one of those weird novels that is both sequel and prequel. The protagonist, Strahd Von Zarovich, appeared first in the Ravenloft novels Vampire of the Mist and Knight of the Black Rose, and while it begins after those novels, I, Strahd explores thoroughly the events that preceded them.
Strahd Von Zarovich was a simple, tired ruler of Barovia and he's also a badass of a vampire. He is portrayed as cold, calculating, in all ways evil. Here, then, is the attempt to soften his character. Beginning before he became a vampire, the book - largely in journal form - tells of his life as an aging mortal and how he found the woman of his dreams and subsequently ended up as an immortal, undead ruler.
The strength of the novel is in the characters. Surprisingly, this does not hinge on the other novels Strahd appears in. It's basically a tale of love gone awry and while it's marketed toward young men, this novel is surprisingly accessible to young women.
While this is near the top of juvenile fiction - especially fantasy-horror or genre work in general - it's almost insulting that the hardcover has several drawings interspersed. Not a challenging read at all, but not uninteresting.
What saves the book from being average is that it is remarkably mature - the length of the book reflects an adult relationship, the characters act as adults which is remarkably refreshing for anyone living in this culture where teen mentality is the demographic king.
For other books with vampire characters, please check out my review of The Short Second Life Of Bree Tanner!
For other book reviews, please check out my index page!
© 2010, 2001 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.