I just finished up Agyar, by Steven Brust. This was a nice piece of
modern day Gothic horror. Our hero, Jack Agyar, is gradually revealed
as the monster. Through a combination of elision and selective
narration, the details are only revealed slowly through the
story. Within the story, the narrative is being written by Jack on a
typewriter he finds in the house where is residing. The device allows
for a significant amount of self-reflection and musing on the nature
of writing and remembering, which none-the-less does not get in the
way of the plot.
Brust’s solid descriptions of late-winter nights in a University town in
Ohio are magnificent, and help ground the wild fantasy of conversing
with the century-old ghost of a ex-slave, who haunts the house where
Agyar has taken up residence. The ghost, Jim, acts as a foil and
confidant for Jack, allowing us to discover Jacks background through
the narrative, rather than having the information dumped on us.
Brust follows all of the coventions of a modern Vampire story, but
never bothers to explain them, trusting the reader to be aware of them
and identify them from being shown their effects. He starts by never
permitting Agyar to enter a building except when invited. He slowly
introduces other aspects of Vampire lore, while never using the word
I’m glad this book is back in print. I discovered Brust only a few
years ago, and have only a few books left to discover in his back
catalog. I remember passing “Brokedown Palace” and “Jhereg” by in the
mid-80’s. That was a mistake then, and one I’m gladly correcting now.