Pick of the picture books: Transylvania

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The Independent Culture

Thanks to Bram Stoker, Peter Cushing and many other PR agents of Vlad III Dracula, Transylvania remains for most a myth more than a place (the first horror yarns about "Voivode Dracul" date from 1462). It gained the name of a region "outside time" long before Stoker set his novel there, for good reason. History and geography had joined to preserve the "magic" of the past in this "threshold" between Islam and Christendom. In Transylvania (Frances Lincoln, £30), Bronwen Riley writes superbly about her fascination for its landscapes, customs and – above all – people, who now face another threshold as modernity at last arrives in remote Romania, courtesy of the EU. Dan Dinescu's photography is simply stunning.