If Julia slashed Quentin’s painting, bringing back Magda’s curse, it would have fit in better with the storyline Parker wrote for her. Julia is now a vampire due to the events at the end of The Salem Branch, which is an incredibly interesting development for the character as it forces her into admitting her love for Barnabas. She is also tempted by her bloodlust and takes several people, including Toni, as her victims which really allows Dr. Hoffman’s monstrous side to shine. Her final fate is perhaps a bit convoluted and there is a lot which may need to be explained in further books, but overall it’s a nice different dynamic for the character. She is contrasted with the arrival of a different doctor, Dr. Nathaniel Blair, brother of Nicholas Blair, come to Collinwood in an attempt to prove the supernatural. He has come to hunt down a vampire and serves as the true villain in the story, putting David Collins through a basic hell and, unlike his brother, didn’t overstay his welcome and was effective in implementing plans. His eventual defeat by Barnabas is incredibly satisfying to read and does quite a bit to redeem Barnabas’s actions throughout the novel.
Parker’s real focus for this novel is exploring the relationship between David and Jackie, as they both settle into this romance of which neither’s parents approve. Roger believes that Jackie would bring shame on the Collins name, while Toni has the better claim of knowing the supernatural trouble the Collins family can bring. David is shown here to have matured from the terror he was in the television show, building on his interest in cars attempting to get a luxury car from 1929 restored and accidentally being whisked on a strange and mysterious journey into the past with Jackie. Yes, the portion of the book that is in the past brings David and Jackie right to it, where they interact with a younger Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, Quentin Collins, and an older Jamison Collins during prohibition where the Collins family has taken up bootlegging. It’s also a chance to bring back some characters from the 1897 story, including Magda Rakosi and Charles Delaware Tate who both make excellent appearances. The book also goes a long way to have David become disillusioned with the image of his family he has. Most notably Elizabeth and Quentin have a romance, with Elizabeth wishing to run away together. This creates some dissonance with David, having to reflect on the possibility that he and Jackie are repeating history. There is also the revelation that Jamison Collins was a member of the Klan, adding an element of historical realism never really touched on in the show. It’s a development which creates a sense of danger as David and Jackie are tempted to stop a lynching and end up in a police raid. Once, the 1929 flashback is over it’s a nonstop race to the finish as David and Jackie try to save Quentin’s portrait, realize Barnabas is a vampire and Quentin is an immortal werewolf, and generally shake the status quo in a way which the show never did. Overall, Wolf Moon Rising is a book that’s another step up from Parker’s other work. The plot is perhaps the most Dark Shadows of any of these, throwing together the kitchen sink and seeing just what comes out of it. There are a few elements which don’t work, but what works is incredibly memorable. 9/10.