The Stress of Her Regard review

Fans of The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (such as myself) sit up and take note: Tachyon Publications has reissued The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers.  Originally published in 1989, this is a dark, decadent, Romantic fantasy.  That’s Romantic with a capital R, as Byron, Keats, and Shelley are all characters in this immensely imagined and thoroughly researched novel.  The protagonist, one Michael Crawford, is carousing the night before his wedding when he places his intended’s ring on the finger of a marble statue for safe keeping.  His intentions fail his intended; she is brutally murdered on their wedding night.  Crawford flees from the authorities and his ghastly memories straight into the company of the poets and the demonic nephelim which regard them.  In exchange for inspiring their greatest literary works, the nephelim (or lamia) preserve their lives while demolishing the lives of everyone they hold dear.  Many authors have noted that there is blood on their pages; in The Stress of Her Regard Powers takes that metaphor to its furthest extent.  This book is utterly fantastic.  I’m placing it in my top ten, and I’m going to brush up on my Keats and Shelley to see if I can trace the incredible connections which Powers made into a phenomenal novel.

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