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Dark Shadows: Heiress of Collinwood
by Lara Parker
Tor, $15.99, 320pp
Published: November 2016

I have been a fan of the Dark Shadows TV series and the books based upon it since I was in grade school, 40 odd years ago. I was excited to read this new novel, especially when I found out the interesting fact that the author, Lara Parker, played Angelique in the TV show. She's written four original novels based on that show thus far.

Things start off with Victoria Winters in 1797 and then return to the present, 1972. Her time in the past, including her life, her husband, whom she loved enough to travel through time to be with and even her death, is still a vivid memory, but one which is slowly fading from her mind, as she wakes to find herself back in her life as a news reporter for a television station in Bangor, Maine. Soon, however, a letter finds her and implores her to come to Collinwood, due to important business, and so Victoria finds herself drawn back into the tangled web of the Collinses, where she was once the family governess.

Returning to Collinwood immediately immerses Victoria in the mysterious goings-on there: ghostly sightings, dire warnings and a neighbor, who is the twin of her lost husband, Peter Bradford. But most troubling of all is the disappearance of the entire Collins family! Everyone that is, with the exception of the eternal Barnabas Collins, no-one in the town of Collinsport knowing where they went and no-one seeming to care. This is why Victoria has been contacted, as she has been named the heir to the Collinwood Estate. All she has to do to inherit: prove her identity.

To do this, Victoria determines to travel to places in her past: the orphanage where she grew up, as well as several other important locations. And, naturally, what she finds out is not what she was expecting at all!

Like most gothic horrors, this novel is a slow burn. It starts out slow, feeding you tidbits of information and introducing characters. Slowly building, it picks up towards the end.

I did find Victoria's character annoying and wishywashy on several occasions; for example, she travels through time to be with the man she loves but, later on in the book, she questions if she would ever experience true love. She's level-headed and practical on one hand, but doesn't stop to think things through and makes stupid choices on the other hand. There were a few times I wanted to reach through the book and slap her silly... hahaha! Maybe I'm a bit biased, as Victoria was never one of my favorite characters in the series.

I was also a little disappointed that Barnabas didn't even make an appearance in the story until it was over 200 pages in, and then it wasn't much of an appearance at all.

Overall, it was a decent read, and if you are an old school fan of the series and books, then it's worth your time to check it out. I look forward to reading some of Lara Parker's other books in the Dark Shadows series. ~~ Dee Astell

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