Brian James Gage’s eye-catching graphic novel, The Nosferatu Conspiracy: Lady of the Loch, melds vampire lore with some of eastern European history’s most violent upheavals, linking the monsters of popular imagination with 15th century Romanian ruler Vlad the Impaler, Russian mystic Rasputin and ill-fated Tsar Nicholas II and his bride, Tsaritsa Alexandra.
In this slim volume, Gage offers the groundwork for a new imagining of the vampire myth, one deeply rooted in politics, revolution and mysticism. The author provides a brief history of the early stages of the Russian revolution in the early 20th century before jumping into the action, which begins when a pair of monster-hunters find a woman in a loch deep within the Carpathian mountains. She’s submerged in water, but she’s alive.
In fact, she’s the Tsaritsa Alexandra, who along with her husband Nicholas II, is facing the looming dissolution of the royal system. As the tsar consults with his cabinet in the Winter Palace, forces conspire to bring down the ruling class, even as a mysterious figure arrives in St. Petersburg aboard a train that’s carried murder at every stop. The story ends there, as Gage promises to continue the fusion of history and horror in the series’ final two installments.
The story moves rapidly, and the author’s distinctive art style fuses photorealism and artistic embellishments to striking effect. Gage’s hyper-realistic imagery dazzles the eye, and his obvious knowledge of Russian history adds a degree of authenticity to the horror.
Because the story has yet to develop fully, readers don’t come to know the characters deeply. However, the clues they do receive – the tsaritsa’s strange near-death experience, her young son’s disturbing visions of murder and blood, and the arrival of a mysterious stranger who bears the tell-tale signs of a vampire – keep readers engaged.
Graphic novel fans will find the art fresh and captivating, and readers of vampire lore, too, will appreciate this interesting take on a legend that’s known countless iterations through the years.
Also available in hardcover and ebook.