Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
Reviewed by John Glover, Reference Librarian for the Humanities
This book is a riveting menagerie of story, from the overarching tale of the novel, to the stories contained within it, to the Hans Christian Anderson tale referenced in the title. The co-authors both contributed to the story, with Mignola doing all of the illustrations in his characteristic fantastical Expressionist style. The prose is lucid, with a generally dark tone, leaving the highs and lows of the story to move the reader.
The setting of the story is an alternate Europe, during and directly after World War I. Events and places share many similarities with our world, but not all. Lord Baltimore is a former English officer suffering from the shocks of war, as well as an encounter with the titular vampire. The secondary characters all knew Baltimore at various times in life, and they meet in a tavern to tell stories about him and about their own lives. As it turns out, they have all experienced supernatural events that make them more liable to believe the narrative of Lord Baltimore's tragic life, and the ghastly plague that spread from the trenches of World War I to ravage Europe like the Red Death of Poe. In telling their stories, they come to grips with the damaging effects of evil and strengthen their resolve to do what is necessary to aid their own steadfast tin soldier.