Review: Carpathia / Authors: Matt Forbeck / Format: Paperback / Release date: 1st March
The late 1800’s to early 1900’s are currently being strip-mined for ideas by a small horde of storytellers. In addition to a taste for all things Victorian, we’ve seen Sherlock Holmes remixed, World War One re-imagined and made weird and Martian invasions redone countless times. Which makes Matt Forbeck’s Carpathia quite remarkable, is that he has taken historical and fictional elements and remixed them into something new and interesting.
Part disaster survival story, part historical mash-up with a very heavy dose of classic horror Carpathia begins with a small team of friends aboard the Titanic, and, as you would expect, the infamous ship sinks, only for this intrepid band to be rescued by the titular Carpathia. (Quick witted history buffs of course will have already worked that out, as in the real world, the first rescue ship on the scene of the disaster was the RMS Carpathia.) The first few chapters read as a thrilling tale of survival over impossible odds, which is a good a start, but thankfully, it gets much, much better. In this story, there are worse things than dying of exposure in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
Did I mention that this band of friends have the surnames Seward, Harker and Holmwood? And, yes they are in fact, meant to be the descendants from the character’s in Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Just as well really, as the ship is infested with the vampires.
Forbeck tells the tale in a tight, character driven way, and doesn’t spare any punches. This is a rapidly moving thriller, with plenty of twists and turns along the way, and is one of the most entertaining horror stories I’ve read in a good long while. There’s enough mystery and weirdness mixed in to the tale to keep the reader on their toes all the way through, and Forbeck delights in using the obvious as a red-herring. Fans of Kim Newman’s Anno Dracula will find a lot to love here, as will anyone who prefers their horror with a hint of claustrophobia.