The Vampire of Ropraz by Jacques Chessex (Translated by W Donald Wilson) - review by Sebastian Shakespeare

Sebastian Shakespeare

There Will Be Blood

The Vampire of Ropraz


Bitter Lemon Press 106pp £6.99

You don't normally associate Count Dracula with Switzerland. This is the land of peace and love, as Harry Lime reminded us in The Third Man. Goncourt Prize-winner Jacques Chessex has taken a real-life crime in rural Switzerland as a starting point for his latest novel – a crime that reverberated around the world. In 1903 the graves of three young women were unearthed within months of each other and their bodies violated. The newspapers dubbed the perpetrator ‘the Vampire of Ropraz’.

The Vampire of Ropraz is a gothic horror story written in a modern vernacular. The landscape is one of dark forests, cramped villages and squat houses but the narrative is as crisp as the Swiss mountain air. It is this disjunction between elegant form and Grand Guignol content that gives

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