The Serbian publishing company Geo Poetika with help from the Serbian government, has translated a series of novels of Serbia authors to English. This is the second one I have read, the first being Lake Como.
This book has a lot going for it, as it is right up my alley. It is a historical fiction novel, set in World War II, in the southern Serbian city of Niš. It has evil Nazis, Chetniks, Partizans, mixed in with a search for the Emperor Constantine-s weapon collection in the tunnels underneath the city. It also has vampires. With all of these elements that I love, I really enjoyed the book. It was a fast read and I could’t put it down.
I wish Stojiljković would have taken the story deeper, however. It is a great concept, but at 265 pages, it is hard to develop the characters fully and get into all of the cool history surrounding the early Christians, Germanic Tribes, and the life of Constantine. I don’t think the author is a scholar and perhaps this book would have been more to my liking if it was written by Umberto Eco or even Dan Brown. I could have used some more background on things like the runic alphabets, the Nazi’s work in the occult, and the life of Constantine. I could have used another 300-400 pages!
It was a great concept however and a perfect book for the airplane. Thanks again to Geo poetika for featuring these Serbian writers for the outside world to read. I highly recommend this book and it makes me want to explore some of the ruins around Niš. Also, the myth of the vampire started in Serbia and I just read of the course at the University of Wisconsin, by a Serbian professor, that explores this connection.