My book I reviewed was The Lost, by Jonathan Aycliffe. The main setting for this book is
modern day Romania. As a naive Englishman, Michael Feraru travels to a remote, forbidding
castle in the mountains of Transylvania and then fleshes it out with appealing characters and a
different plot. Michael leaves his beloved girlfriend behind at home where he thinks itís safer,
her name is Sophie Wandless. This book is made up of a different way of writing, Sophie and
Michael exchange information about each others and whatís going on by letters, or postcards
back and forth. We also learn about the characters from personal journal entries, letters to other
people, and letters to them from other people. The evil beings in The Lost are not vampires, but
strigoi, free-floating shades of an ancient family of lords. They die and don't decay. The other
characters Aycliffe has in the book start out having an attractive sense of humor but, humor
fades as the creepy crawlies take over. A prep-school teacher in Cambridge, Michael Feraru,
inherits Castle Vliacu, his family's fortress in the Transylvanian Alps and hopes to turn it into an
orphanage for Romanian children. Delightful letters pass between Michael and his love, Sophie
Wandless, back in Cambridge, as he describes his travels through Eastern Europe, his frustrating
encounters with bureaucrats, and the gloomy life in today's Bucharest. Meanwhile, he hires a
research assistant, Liliana, to help him establish his bona fides as the owner of Castle Vliacu..
Liliana and her secret boyfriend, however, hope to lead him into opening not an orphanage but
rather a hotel at the castle, a business likely to gather great financial rewards. A grinding winter
journey to the castle takes Michael and Liliana through villages where many peasants seem
never to have seen a car. When their own breaks down, the two nearly die of exposure while
plowing about a frigid countryside infested by wolves. After arriving at the castle on its
mountaintop, they find only an elderly blind woman and her son, who haven't left the site in 50
years. A fine library reveals much about the darkness underlying Michael's ancestors and
himself. At the time, sex blooms between Michael and Liliana, whisperings abound in empty
rooms, and a ghost roams the corridors. Pale white wolves that are not wolves but strigoi, or the
un-dead, pace the hills. The conflict in this novel was mostly external, with Michael against
Sophie, and Strigoi and internal conflict between Michael against the pride of his family and the
decision of right from wrong.
The two main characters in this story are Sophie and Michael. They are both alike
in that they have a good sense of humor and are fooling around with each other in the letters.
But, Michael is hiding something for Sophie , and that is what makes them different. Sophie is
straight forward and describes her life back in England, and when she writes to ask Michael
questions, he describes them vaguely , and then changes the subject. They do love each other,
but Michael is selfish and cares only about himself.
This novel was an enteraining one rather than a lesson of life one. The theme of this novel was to
take life for what itís worth because if you try to change it, it might just come back and make it
worse for you. The theme, I think, is a good one for our generation because so many young
people are trying to change their lives to fit in, being too busy with that, and forgetting what is
really important.