I want back the 25 cents I spent on this. And the however-many-hours of my life I spent reading it. The title sounded so promising. Unfortunately, it was a false promise left sadly unfulfilled. I know that sounds slightly dramatic but, in colloquial terms, it sucked. Here’s an overview:
Title: The Saint-Germain Chronicles
Author: Chelsey Quinn Yarbro
Rating (of 5): ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦ ♦
Year published: 1983
First sentence: “I read your name and my mind is filled with you, my heart.”
The Saint-Germain Chronicles is a disjointed collection of short stories — except the stories are missing the story part. That is, they’re basically sans plot. It reads like a series of snippets deleted from other books and then mashed together. Most of the stories read like pieces excised from the middle of a well-written narrative … except these seem to be the parts deleted for irrelevance or inability to keep the reader’s attention. Perhaps if you’re a die-hard Yarbro fan and have read all of her many other books involving the vampiric count, you might enjoy this simply because it’s more of the same. J.K. Rowlings could write a plot-less book of Harry Potter short stories and I’d still read it and love it along with millions of other Potterheads worldwide.
The book includes five short stories with letters in between. The letters are written between characters appearing in the stories, but, with one exception, they are unrelated to the surrounding stories. The stories are dispersed over the span of about 200 years. The first story, in the late 1800’s, has the Count listening to a man tell about how he came to possess a particular mirror. It seems like it could be the take-off point for a novella, but when the story ends, nothing has been revealed that the reader didn’t already know by page 6. The second suffers the same problem. The third story, “Art Songs,” reads like something that may have been really important to understanding motions and actions in longer novel, but which unfortunately makes almost no sense on its own. The fourth story is — oh, who cares? I’m already boring myself writing this.
I got the book at a book sale last month and picked it up only because I’ve had another of the author’s books — Hotel Transylvania — on my TBR list for some time. It was a waste of 25 cents. (I’m so glad I didn’t buy it on the first day when it would’ve been $2.50.) However, despite my near-hatred of The Saint-Germain Chronicles, I’ll still be leaving Hotel Transylvania on my TBR list. Here’s why: the author seems promising, but this just felt like a book of scraps. I think if I’d eaten the literary main course instead of the table scraps, I might have enjoyed this book. Of course, this is not a particularly well-known or popular book, so I doubt that my bad review of it is knocking it off of anyone’s TBR list. I guess all I’m really saying is that if you see it at a book fair, don’t waste your 25 cents.