The Adventure of the Incognita Countess
by Cynthis Ward
Aqueduct Press, $12.00, 126pp
Published: January 2017
The Adventures of the Incognita Countess is a short, pulp style, alternate reality novel, though some historical events depicted within, like the fate of the Titanic, have the same outcome as in our reality. Several fictional literary characters have come out of their books to cruise into adventure with our heroine.
Lucy Harker's parents are John and Mina Harker, but she is actually the true daughter of Mina and Dracula, making her a dhampir, a half vampire, protector of mankind. She has been enlisted by the British goverment to be a spy and her handler is none other than Mycroft Holmes, or M for short. She has been trained in the fine arts of weaponry, including the use of a stake, to kill vampires, whom she's been assured have no soul so have no remorse in killing humans. As a dhampir, she has great strength and other vampire traits, but can live off food or blood and, most importantly, her soul is intact.
In her first field assignment, Lucy is told she is to act as a secret bodyguard to an American military officer traveling back to the United States aboard the maiden ship Titanic. The officer carries with him the plans to Captain Nemo’s long lost super submarine, the Nautilus; Lucy is to shadow him to make sure the plans stay safe. It is imperative that they reach America safely and do not fall into enemy hands, the enemy here being the Germans who are once again hellbent on war.
The Titanic is powered by Martian technology, salvaged from the Martian wars, and touted as being unsinkable. We all know how well that bragging worked out for them from our history books; that part of the story remains the same.
Once aboard the Titanic, we have a couple of German agents in disguise, and the Lord and Lady Greyborough; rumors abound that he was actually raised by apes in the jungles of Africa as a baby. Lucy sees him as a possible ally on the voyage if needed. She believes she is ready for spies, tricks and any other strange things to come, that is until a beautiful young woman named Carmilla Karnstein boards. Lucy is instantly attracted to the exotic woman but knows that is dangerous in the extreme, since Carmilla is an actual vampire with abilities far beyond her own, not to mention that Lucy believes that she may well be in cahoots with the German agents.
As the story unfolds and the action begins, Lucy is torn between her duty and her attaction to Carmilla. Can Lucy keep the plans out of the Germans' hands? Can she stake the souless vampire? Can she survive the sinking of the Titanic?
The author tells an interesting tale of adventure and romance in a pulp style story. I found it an engaging read, and enjoyed the book, especially her use of famous literary characters from the past. I really wish the book had been longer with more back story included on the main characters. I hope that Ms Ward writes more stories about Lucy's adventures with more characters we'll recognize and with more glimpses into her past, so that we can see how she became who she is. If you are into historical pulp action, then I think you'll enjoy this book. ~~ Dee Astell