Twined through the ivied walls of Princeton University, vampirism spread like a virus in 1905. Though not all fell prey, no one escaped exposure.
Who better to invent this contagion than Joyce Carol Oates, Princeton professor since 1978? She knows the streets, the customs, the genealogies and secrets both chronicled and disavowed. In "The Accursed," an unnamed fictional narrator reveals this "history," writing in the late 20th Century. Diaries, correspondence, hearsay, legend and conjecture combine to expose the visitation of vampirism at a particularly fecund period in Princeton's history. The environs are traversed by luminaries such as former president Grover Cleveland, burgeoning author Upton Sinclair, Sherlock Holmes, Mark Twain, Jack London and, most prominently, Woodrow Wilson during his tenure as president of the school.
Left for the reader to consider is the very nature of vampirism. This affliction can be the cause of unbridled idealism, obsession, megalomania, and paranoia. It might explain random, senseless or accidental tragedies.
For those who enjoy the interplay of historical characters, Oates's book provides an entertaining mix. Meanwhile, readers in search of the occult will not be disappointed in the under-worldly Bog Kingdom or its fiendish inhabitants.
--Bob S., Rock Road Branch