Chelsea Quinn Yarbro,
A Dangerous Climate
(Tor, 2008)

A Dangerous Climate takes place in Russia during the reign of Peter the Great, where the harsh winters and rampant lack of facilities for combating the conditions were extremely harmful and dangerous. Unfortunately, that's where the real threats in the plot end and the problems with Chelsea Quinn Yarbro's novel itself begin.

The famous vampire Count Saint-Germain travels to this foreign country under the guise of being a diplomat, while posing as the husband of a fellow spy whose work severely differs from his. Count Saint-Germain stands apart from other vampire protagonists as a man who embodies the ideals of humanitarianism. As such, he spends his time in this book sponsoring advances in consideration, medical care and living conditions for those around him during his Russian assignment. However, his humanitarian concerns and the conditions he lives with as a vampire serve as his entire personality. A few hints placed here and there promoting Yarbro's other Count Saint-Germain works offer the only deviation from the rigidly formulaic template of the Count's basic traits, implying that he has been adventurous and passionate in the past.

Saint-Germain's loyal and long-lived servant claims slightly more interest, but perhaps only due to the lack of explanation in this novel for his ability to survive alongside a vampire and how he came to belong to the count. Another poorly explained aspect of Yarbro's world lies in the physical relations Saint-Germain attains with the women in this book. While it is repeatedly mentioned that there is a limit on the amount of interaction he can achieve with a woman before she becomes infected with his vampire blood, the exact reasons behind the limitations are never given. Instead, Yarbro's readers are treated to several similar scenes where Saint-Germain's tenderness and experience bring women to raptures within quite small doses of tamely written stimulation.

On the other hand, Yarbro's intensely detailed historical background offers readers a very dense and accurate account of life in early Petersburg. Her plot, which centers around an unknown stranger appearing during Saint-Germain's undercover work and claiming to be the Count Saint-Germain himself, makes small impression against the true facts included in A Dangerous Climate because, from start to finish, it remains a network of slow-moving loose ends. The threats to Saint-Germain's physical person are easily eluded and lacking context, the impostor's threat to his identity never comes to a satisfactory conclusion, no female character claims the role of heroine or even romantic interest, and the Count's mission itself fails to really alter events.

In short, while both well researched and well intentioned, no aspect of this episode of Count Saint-Germain's life manages to rouse enough interest to really engage its readers.

review by
Whitney Mallenby

14 November 2009

Agree? Disagree?
Send us your opinions!

what's new