Saturday, October 27, 2012

Dracula the Un-Dead

Dracula the Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt

It takes a lot of guts (and maybe little brains) to write a sequel to a book that's considered to be a classic by most, especially when you weren't the author of that book. It's not the same thing as taking the idea of vampires and writing your own version of the myth, like so many have done with varying degrees of success. One author in particular has made millions of dollars from her books, achieving the type of financial success that Stoker could never have dreamed of, which I believe is an insult to fine literature. Dacre Stoker, the great-grand nephew of Bram, and Ian Holt, if nothing else, show they have a lot of guts by writing a true sequel to Dracula, which means bringing the original vampire back again.

I bought the book back in 2009 when it came out, primarily out of a sense of curiosity due to the name "Stoker" on the cover. But it stayed low on my to-be-read pile because it seemed unlikely that it would be very good. Most people have read Bram Stoker's book and know how it ends, Dracula is killed by Van Helsing, Dr. Jack Seward, Jonathan Harker, and crew. So how plausible could his return be? Ultimately I decided to finally read it because it's Halloween time and I wanted an appropriate read for the holiday. I was pleasantly surprised.

Twenty-five years have passed since the events of Dracula, and those who were involved in its events have tried to move on with their lives, none very successfully however. Jonathan and Mina Harker are married and have a grown son Quincey. But Jonathan has never been able to look past Mina's relationship with Dracula, and is reminded of it daily due to the perpetual youth it has given her. Their marriage is devoid of happiness and Jonathan's subsequent drinking problem has alienated him from his son who has moved to London to pursue acting at the Lyceum Theatre, owned by Bram Stoker. Fittingly the theatre is preparing to debut the play Dracula, based on Stoker's book, but the death of the lead actor threatens to end its run before it ever gets started. Soon, those who hunted down Dracula begin to turn up brutally murdered, and the rest begin to realize that they may not have been as successful as they had thought for so many years.

Ultimately I enjoyed this book. While it wasn't written in the same format as Dracula, with varying sources for its narration, the book still manages to capture the same tone and feel that the original had; which I think is part of the reason it's stood the test of time. It's not going to join Dracula in the classic literature section of the bookstore, but I think it's a worthwhile read. The authors gave additional depth to all of the characters.

I came across an interview with Ian Holt in which he mentioned that they're working on a prequel to Dracula now. I'll be reading that when it's published.

★ ★ ★ ☆ ☆

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