Thirteen Years Later by Jasper Kent — book review

Thirteen Years Later by Jasper Kent, Bantam Books, ‘7.99

Reviewed by Pauline Morgan

There is a long tradition of playing with history. Crime and historical novelists do it as well as writers in the fantasy and horror genres. Some periods and places lend themselves to such treatments better than others especially where the only records are official ones and there is simultaneously a rich folklore to draw on.

Jasper Kent’s previous novel, Twelve, was set in 1812 when Napoleon was traipsing across the Russian countryside, attempting to conquer vast tracts of wilderness. One of the soldiers fighting against the French was Aleksei Danilov. Amongst his group were mercenaries from Wallachia calling themselves Oprichniki. They turned out to be vampires. Aleksei believed he had killed them all.

Thirteen Years Later is set in 1825, another year of upheaval for Russia. Aleksei is acting as a spy for Tsar Aleksandr, infiltrating a group intent on overthrowing the regime. He returns home one night to his house in St Petersburg to find a message scrawled on the wall. It is in a code only a dead friend knew and following the clues, leads him to the realisation that his tsar and, consequently, Russia is in grave danger from a man he thought was dead.

Sequels to highly acclaimed books can sometimes be difficult reads but this is a pleasant charge through a turbulent period in Russian history. Just because we have not heard of vampires trying to subvert the Romanov dynasty does not mean that it didn’t happen, we just have no proof of it. The novel treads a fine line between the truth and fantasy which is what makes the premise plausible. The best fiction allows a reader to stand back and think that this might have happened. There are many things I do not believe in but others do. Who knows who is right? Maybe there are vampires out there.

Thirteen Years Later by Jasper Kent, Bantam Books, ‘7.99

Reviewed by Pauline Morgan

There is a long tradition of playing with history. Crime and historical novelists do it as well as writers in the fantasy and horror genres. Some periods and places lend themselves to such treatments better than others especially where the only records are official ones and there is simultaneously a rich folklore to draw on.

Jasper Kent’s previous novel, Twelve, was set in 1812 when Napoleon was traipsing across the Russian countryside, attempting to conquer vast tracts of wilderness. One of the soldiers fighting against the French was Aleksei Danilov. Amongst his group were mercenaries from Wallachia calling themselves Oprichniki. They turned out to be vampires. Aleksei believed he had killed them all.

Thirteen Years Later is set in 1825, another year of upheaval for Russia. Aleksei is acting as a spy for Tsar Aleksandr, infiltrating a group intent on overthrowing the regime. He returns home one night to his house in St Petersburg to find a message scrawled on the wall. It is in a code only a dead friend knew and following the clues, leads him to the realisation that his tsar and, consequently, Russia is in grave danger from a man he thought was dead.

Sequels to highly acclaimed books can sometimes be difficult reads but this is a pleasant charge through a turbulent period in Russian history. Just because we have not heard of vampires trying to subvert the Romanov dynasty does not mean that it didn’t happen, we just have no proof of it. The novel treads a fine line between the truth and fantasy which is what makes the premise plausible. The best fiction allows a reader to stand back and think that this might have happened. There are many things I do not believe in but others do. Who knows who is right? Maybe there are vampires out there.