Eerie History: The Legend of Valentine Sorrow by Caroline Busher

Inspired by legends embedded in the landscape around her, Caroline Busher can be counted on for magnificent historical fiction with an eerie twist; the kinds of stories that haunt both the past and our present dreams. They take us on journeys over the land, across seas and into the worlds that lie just beyond our reach, but manage to seep through, giving us a chill up the spine and a sense of wariness. The Ghosts of Magnificent Children brought the wrongs of the past into the present to be righted. The Girl Who Ate The Stars spun a web capturing werewolves. And now, she has given us a new other-worldly weaving with dark, strong threads….


author: Caroline Busher

Poolbeg Press (19 October 2021)

ISBN: 9781781997635

Sligo, 1832: The cholera epidemic savagely sweeps across Ireland, bringing in its’ wake a plague of vampires. One 400-year of family of these unearthly creatures has set up camp on a stark, forbidding island just off the coast. They are hiding, hungry, desperate to survive. And young, rash, spoiled Clarabelle has her sights on finding a “brother”… Valentine sits by the bed of his dying mother. Any moment, he will become an orphan. But lurking in the shadows, Clarabelle waits…even though her father has forbidden it. She will take Valentine with her. She must act now, as the Vampire Hunters have caught sight of her. Before he realises the danger he is in, Valentine finds himself flying across the star-filled sky to the vampires’ lair. And when his sister, Matilda arrives home from the fever hospital, she finds her brother gone. She only has stories, rumours from the few remaining neighbours to point her in the direction Valentine has gone, but she will stop at nothing to find him.

Valentine now embarks on his new “life”, a series of harrowing adventures on the run from the Vampire Hunters that see him shipwrecked at the foot of an ancient lighthouse, captured by a sinister old man and then working as an illusionist at a Dublin Theatre. He and Clarabelles’ vampire family find refuge of sorts in Casino Marino, a glorious summer house in Dublin with secret passages and hidden rooms. But the Vampire Hunters are not the only danger they must face. An old enemy of the family is biding his time, waiting for the moment when he can destroy them forever….

Inspired by not only the cholera epidemic of the 1830s in Ireland, but by Bram Stokers’ pivotal novel, Dracula; Caroline Busher describes a portrait of life at the time with vivid accuracy. The sights, scents and experience of sickness and fear brought by cholera as it ravages the land. Add to this the eerie desperation of the vampire myth; the power and horror of being undead for eternity, and it creates a mesmerising, poignant story. Weaving threads of family, loyalty, sacrifice and peril of a different kind through the pages allows the reader to fully enter the story. Everyone and everything within becomes accessible, recognisable and in an odd way, relatable. The relationships of all the characters and their differing personalities are carefully considered, built so they make sense; they fit together seamlessly. They harbour a few shaking surprises that add depth and fascination. But, make no mistake. The vampires of this book are genuine vampires. They follow the “rules” of being vampires, behaving as you would expect. And while she plays with the vampire myth in subtle ways, Caroline never blatantly alters or ignores its’ foundations. And that makes the story feels frighteningly real.

Well-written and well-researched, The Legend of Valentine Sorrow is gripping, chilling, star-quality historical fiction/fantasy. Haunting, evocative, emotional, consuming and, eerily beautiful. A must-read.

Thank you to Caroline and to Poolbeg Press for sending me this extraordinary book. I just love it!

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