And Then The Nightmare Came At Last

June 15, 2015

elitere si la sfarsit a mai ramas cosmarulI love this book just as much as I did last year. Perhaps even more, if that’s possible. As far as I know, the English version hasn’t been published yet. Until then and before I write about some other stories by Oliviu Crâznic, I figured it would be a good idea to turn my attention to the novel I spoke about some time ago and post another review for it, as a sort of gift/ preview for our English-speaking readers.

If you ask me, I think that …And Then the Nightmare Came at Last is one of the best stories of its kind in Romanian literature and even beyond its borders. It’s well-written, well-documented and the afterword is a perfect starting point for research or simply light reading. I was listening to a presentation not long ago and one of the ideas mentioned there focused on the structure of certain successful literary works. Personally, I think that the plot is not enough to attract the reader. For that reason, I was pleased to find here not only a terrifying and beautiful story, maybe like a broken fairytale, but also carefully built characters. A year after reading the novel for the first time, I forgot some names. But that’s just a minor detail. I still remember sharing their joy, fear and flickers of hope. Looking back, I see the story placed somewhere outside the laws of the world as we know it. The characters remained in my mind as caught somewhere between archetypes and regular people.

This is a gothic novel, a story with vampires, dark forces and the ever-present death threat. The best way to speak of the plot is not to say too much. The less you know, the better. Just know this: along with Arthur de Seragens, we are invited to a wedding, a beginning which marks a mad race against time and death. Little by little, every bit of normality is taken away from the protagonist, revealing the darkest side of one’s soul. You see, it’s not all about monsters and fantasy. There is another part to be discovered, a question with different answers: how do mortals react when they face their worst nightmares? Every piece of information is beautifully crafted and integrated in a complex network of characters, secrets and fear.

There are quite a few aspects which will draw the reader’s attention. Once you turn the final page, you might not feel the need to break what you’ve read in smaller parts, but still. The title goes perfectly well with the text, even if I felt it covering a slightly different part than the original version. Has the nightmare come at the end or was it the only one standing as the final words were put to paper? What difference does it make? The nightmare is always there, even when nobody sees it and a part of it lingers long after it has been defeated.

Whether we speak of humans or vampires, one thing is clear: as enchanting as the night might be, evil is not something you’d want to face. The many characters we encounter could vouch for that. Nobody wins, nobody escapes the confrontation unharmed, not even the vampires. Speaking of which… what makes them special? Everything. I’m not saying that you won’t find similar ideas in other books, but I am so pleased with the way these creatures are presented here.

What makes them truly terrifying (as if killing and turning people into beasts like them wasn’t enough) is that the characters cannot always recognize them. Zombie-like creatures are easy to be spotted and the… hero, so to say, might be able to fight back and win. But vampires can also hide behind a human-like mask. Obviously, they still have weaknesses and they can still be defeated… if they are found. If not, they move on to another victim, continuing a seemingly never-ending dance with death. Word of advice: pay close attention to THE vampire presented in …And Then the Nightmare Came at Last, after you finish the book. You will not be disappointed. No, we don’t know much of its past, but you can fill in the blanks. I’d read a book where the actions are presented from this perspective faster than you can say “blood”.

I suppose this is a good place as any to stop. When you have the chance, take a night to learn more about the characters and what they hide or offer. Enjoy the descriptions and the fast-paced action. One final question: what other vampire novels grabbed your attention?

by Elena Atudosiei

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10 Responses to And Then The Nightmare Came At Last

  1. Noexis on June 28, 2015 at 7:55 pm

    If I knew Romanian, I would be glued to this, yet all I can do is sob because I don’t. I couldn’t help but notice how similar this novel is to reality. It sounds so fantastic, so crude and indisputably primal when it comes to our humanness and the “ways of life”, so to speak. Fantastic article.

    • Elena Atudosiei on June 29, 2015 at 11:35 am

      I promise to read it to you when we meet, my dear. But hopefully the book will be translated in English by then. 🙂 Thank you!

  2. Harry Potter Spells Tag | eLitere on January 31, 2016 at 8:02 am

    […] And Then the Nightmare Came at Last, without a doubt. If you’re here and you know Romanian, look for this novel. […]

    • Elaine on February 4, 2016 at 1:32 pm

      Do you have any information regarding the publication date for an English edition of this book? If an English edition does not come out soon I will have to learn Rounanian!

      • Elena Atudosiei on February 4, 2016 at 9:05 pm

        Unfortunately, I don’t have any information, just the hope that the novel WILL be translated in English soon. Oliviu Crâznic has gorgeous stories and I don’t even want to consider that they will not be available in different languages. If there’s any news, I promise to let you know.

        • Elaine on February 4, 2016 at 11:15 pm

          Thank you so much!

      • Elaine on February 4, 2016 at 11:14 pm

        Oops! Typo – Romanian!

        • Elena Atudosiei on February 5, 2016 at 6:33 am

          If you do decide to learn Romanian, good luck and have fun!

  3. Sailor Moon Book Tag | eLitere on July 17, 2016 at 7:01 am

    […] choose one of my favourite Romanian books, …And Then the Nightmare Came at Last by Oliviu Crâznic. Now that I think about it, this novel would be perfect for Mars, […]

  4. Citesc literatură română | eLitere on April 30, 2018 at 6:24 am

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