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The Stress of Her Regard by Tim Powers

The Stress of Her Regard (1989)

by Tim Powers

Other authors: See the other authors section.

Series: Romantic Poets and Nephilim (1)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
1,015228,391 (3.93)66
  1. 20
    A Fatal Likeness by Lynn Shepherd (fyrefly98)
    fyrefly98: Both are fictional attempts to fill in some of the historical gaps regarding what was really going on in the lives of the Romantic poets - particularly Percy Shelley - although the two books come to very, very different answers (A Fatal Likeness is a historical mystery, while The Stress of Her Regard goes a more supernatural route).… (more)
  2. 10
    Fathom by Cherie Priest (bmlg)
    bmlg: mortals caught in elemental wars
  3. 10
    The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova (MyriadBooks)
  4. 00
    Les Cantiques de Mercure by Fabrice Colin (corporate_clone)
    corporate_clone: The two books are quite similar in the sense that they both emulate a story running over several centuries, displaying powerful and immortal beings. They also link magical powers with Art.
  5. 13
    Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel by Susanna Clarke (MyriadBooks)

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Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
Normally, I'd probably be giving this a 4star rating. It was extremely well written, exciting, horrifying, action-packed and chock full of blood and magic.

So stop there if you liked this book.

The main reason I'm going with 2stars is because the week that I read this book I worked double shifts almost every day, was coming down from dealing with my first ABB and had no emotional cushion to deal with this book.

It many ways it was brutal. When Michael wakes up the first morning and sees Julia and reacts, I almost screamed right along with him. When the children and relatives keep dying off, something inside me just curled up and died with them. When Keats did what he needed to to keep others safe, I almost cried. When Byron tried to have the best of both worlds [or at least the non-worst of both], I wanted to shoot him.

The only other books by Powers that I've read have been [b:The Anubis Gates|142296|The Anubis Gates|Tim Powers|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1344409006s/142296.jpg|2193115] and [b:On Stranger Tides|15670|On Stranger Tides|Tim Powers|http://d.gr-assets.com/books/1327892085s/15670.jpg|17505]. Both were pretty cool and I especially liked Anubis, as it was pretty much a character kicking ass, making the best of a bad situation and coming out on top at the end.
This book, not so much. I felt like the characters, all of them, were barely making it through each day and that was just depressing to me the reader.

So to end. If you've enjoyed Powers other books, you'll probably like this one. If you like vampires, you'll probably like this one.
But if you're an emotional person like me, wait to read this until you've got some reserves to deal with it. You'll need it. ( )
  BookstoogeLT | Dec 10, 2016 |
I don't recall if I've read anything of Tim Powers's before; I've known the name forever, though. And Simon Vance narrated, so with the description listed for The Stress of Her Regard seemed like a solid lock.

But it was so very much not.

Vampires, succubi, fairy godmothers, muses – oh, and the Sphinx – all have the same origin and explanation: lamia. Done right, this could be fascinating. Done not-quite-right, and I wanted to hurt every major character in the book, and some of the minor ones. And more than that I began to develop a deep desire to spit in the author's eye; it's a little off-putting that some of the best creative work of humanity is only due to the lamia. Shelley and Keats and Byron, just for starters, all owe every particle of their talent and fame to these things – things which are revolting and horrifying. (Although I would like to be able to blame vampiric succubus creatures for the fact that Shelley screwed up the lie/lay thing in "Passage of the Apennines". That just made me sad.

There was one good line: "Crawford blinked around at the steep streets and old houses and wondered what he was doing here, weary, fevered, and cabbage-decked" – and apart from that I fluctuated between boredom and tendencies to minor violence.

And when Lord Byron – Lord "Mad, Bad, and Dangerous To Know" – comes off as a repetitive bore (which he really, really does), that's a serious problem. (And I'm not too sure it's correct for him to be referred to as "the lord". That brings to mind a whole other guy.) The whole thing took itself very, very seriously indeed. Almost all of the humor was unintentional. And the whole surreal episode on the mountaintop … phew. I was grateful when it was over.

Even Simon Vance didn't seem too into it – he did everything possible with this, but he pronounced Byron's "Don Juan" the way everyone says it, not the way Byron apparently meant it. I was grateful when the whole book was over. ( )
  Stewartry | Mar 17, 2016 |
Apenas he leído 100 páginas y se me han hecho eternas. El libro parece interesante, pero avanza muy lentamente y la redacción de las escenas con más acción me ha parecido un tanto confusa, tenía que leerlas al menos dos veces para entender lo que había pasado. Quizá intente leerlo de nuevo más adelante.
  L0r0 | Mar 22, 2015 |
I originally read this book when it was first released in paperback in the early 1990's. I just finished a re-read and liked it even more the 2nd time around. Five stars and a ♥!

But how to review this book? It's a romantic vampire story that is the absolute antithesis of Twilight and its ilk. It also bears little resemblance to Dracula or The Historian.

The Stress of Her Regard is a beautifully written "secret history" period piece set in the early 1800's. Several of the characters are known historical figures, (Lord Byron, Percy & Mary Shelley, John Keats, Ed Trelawney). The creative works of these people are enhanced... elevated to genius level by the influence of their muses, the vampires. But these elemental patrons are jealous beings! This is immediately brought to our attention near the beginning of the story when our protagonist, Michael Crawford, (after accidentally marrying a disappearing statue), awakens on the morning after his wedding night. To avoid spoilers, let's just say it's not a happy day for anyone in the little village of Bexhill-on-Sea.

Powers threads together a plethora of historical events into a cohesive fictional storyline that seems more real than reality itself. It's almost as if you are getting the true story behind the official historical one. I have not personally studied this particular time period in detail. However, in reading this book, I get the distinct feeling that, if I did delve into it, I would find not a crack in the timeline Powers presents, nor in the details of these peoples' lives and deaths. For example, the drowning death of Percy Shelley during a sailing accident, and the subsequent identification and cremation of his exhumed body on an Italian beach by Ed Trelawney, is incorporated seamlessly.

To sum up: this is one of my favorite Tim Powers books and falls squarely amongst the best fictional novels I've ever read. The sequel, Hide Me Among the Graves is a worthy follow-up as well. ( )
  ScoLgo | Oct 3, 2014 |
My reactions to reading this novel in 2004.

In terms of the number of elements he put together in his plot, the complexity of historical events he had to fit his plot into the interstices of, this may be Powers most accomplished novel.

Powers fits together the lives of several historical figures -- not just one Romantic poet but three: John Keats, Percy Shelley, and Lord Byron as well as their literary acquaintances including Leigh Hunt and the petulant (and here vampiric and menacing) Dr. Polidori, the Biblical nephilim, several elements of the European vampire legend, Frankenstein and its author Mary Shelley, Italian politics (specifically the importantly named Carbonari), quantum physics (and questions of free will and determinism), Austro-Hungarian politics, the ancient riddle of the Sphinx and speculations on silicon versus carbon life. And, of course, there is his excellent use of epigraphs at the beginning of chapters. Most of them are from the Romantic poets in the novel and fit uncannily with his plot (of course, Powers achieved this effect by building his plot from those quotes).

Not all of them are from the featured poets. The wonderful title phrase comes from a Clark Ashton Smith poem (Powers is a fan.). Some of the epigraphs are also quotes from letters. Fittingly, for a novel featuring vampires, this novel has a persistent air of horror about it, particularly from the doom of whole families getting the attentions of the nephilim and the temptation to trade inspiration and artistic talent (and reap immortality -- the Romantic poets aren't the only literary figures to have connections with the nephilim) for one's soul and family. There is, of course, also the air of doom given the lives of Keats, Shelley, and Byron.

are several of the familiar Powers elements here. The maiming of characters is taken to the extreme of any Powers' novel. Protagonist Michael Crawford loses one whole finger, part of another, gets a permanent limp from being shot in the leg, and goes bald after spending some time offering himself as a Christ parody to the blood drinking sexual underground of the nephilim fetishists. Josephine Carmody loses an eye. There are family issues -- the whole idea of some humans being adopted by the nephilim family. John Keats' poem "Lamia" is one of the major influences on the story. The portrayal of the nephilim as beautiful, erotically attractive, and snake-like -- as well as linked with Medusa -- comes from that poem There is also a fully believable romance, forged in adversity and self-sacrifice (a noble trait many Powers heroes come to embrace), between Josephine and Crawford. Incest -- a plot element of Powers Fisher King trilogy -- is here with Shelley and his nephilim twin sister. As with Powers' The Drawing of the Dark, there is magic in high places, here in a thrilling scene (which, in other novels, would have been the climax but is here about a third of the way in the book) set in the Swiss Alps. Of course, Powers' Declare with its scenes on Mount Ararat also features magic in high places as well as sharing the idea of the nephilim.

Austro-Hungarian politics show up here as they do in The Drawing of the Dark. Josephine's multiple personalities would show up later in the character of Plumtree in Powers' Earthquake Weather. Byron, of course, also shows up (as a quite different sort of character -- he comes off as a very difficult person here and a bit of a jerk -- if a very talented one) in Powers' The Anubis Gate.

I didn't quite like this novel as well as Declare even though the Romantic poets were as interesting of characters as Kim Philby and the plotting was even more intricate -- if not alternating back and forth in time like that novel. (Stylistically, it seemed to me that Powers reveals a major part of his fantasy element -- the existence and characteristics of the nephilim -- earlier than his other fantasy novels.) However, I didn't think he quite integrated the speculations touching on quantum physics and what, exactly, Werner the Austro-Hungarian was up to.

I would certainly consider it one of Powers' three best novels. ( )
  RandyStafford | Apr 5, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (1 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Powers, Timprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Blaylock, James P.Afterwordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Gurney, JamesCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Salwowski, MarkCover artistsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Solé, AlbertTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Vance, SimonNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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...yet thought must see
That eve of time when man no longer yearns,
Grown deaf before Life's Sphinx, whose lips are barred;
When from the spaces of Eternity,
Silence, a rigorous Medusa, turns
On the lost world the stress of her regard.
- Clark Ashton Smith, Sphinx and Medusa
For Dean and Gerda Koontz,
for thirty years of
cheerful, hospitable and tolerant friendship
And with thanks to
Gregory Santo Arena and Gloria Batsford and
Gregory Benford and Will Griffin and
Dana Holm Howard and Meri Howard and
K.W. Jeter and Jeff Levin and Monique Logan and
Kate Powers and Serena Powers and
Joe Stefko and Brian M. Thomsen and Tom Whitmore
And to Paul Mohney, for that conversation, many years ago
over beers at the Tinder Box, about Percy Shelley
First words
Until the squall struck, Lake Leman was so still that the two men talking in the bow of the open sailboat could safely set their wine glasses on the thwarts.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Book description
Set early in the 19th century, Powers's ( On Stranger Tides ) seventh novel is a horror story that wonderfully evokes the period. On the stormy night before his wedding, Dr. Michael Crawford, in an ill-advised moment while drinking and carousing with two of his friends, slips his intended's ring on the finger of a statue of a woman in the inn's courtyard. The next morning the statue has disappeared. Disturbed, Crawford purchases a new ring and goes to his wedding. The night's celebrations are followed by a morning infinitely more horrifying than the previous one--Crawford awakens to find his bride murdered. Doubting his own sanity, he flees England, becoming aware that he is pursued by a lamia --a malignant female spirit. He seeks help from his friends, the poets Byron and Shelley, who, it turns out, have experience with such a monster. Strewn with literary personages and allusions, the book is entertaining on several levels, but most particularly as a chilling horror-adventure.
Publisher's Weekly
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When Michael Crawford discovers his bride brutally murdered in their wedding bed, he is forced to flee, aided by his fellow victims, the greatest poets of his day, Byron, Keats, and Shelley. Together they embark upon a desperate journey crisscrossing Europe.… (more)

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