Friday, September 3, 2010

Dracula: Five Not-So-Easy Pieces

In November and December 2009, my jaw was wired shut for eight weeks. During that time I read voraciously being able to accomplish little else. Among the many books I devoured were five Dracula-related titles.

DRACULA THE UN-DEAD (2009/Dutton) by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt achieves what it set out to do: bring income from Dracula back to the Stoker family and re-establish Dracula as the literary "property" of Stoker's heirs by creating a new franchise from the public domain characters.

I wanted to love this book. I wanted to view it as the authorized sequel to DRACULA, the true heir to Bram Stoker's literary classic. The trouble is one cannot make that claim when the sequel tries so hard to undo everything in the original.

Rather than pay homage to Bram Stoker's work, the authors spend nearly 400 pages proving to us that everything Stoker wrote was wrong. Prince Dracula (Stoker was even wrong about his title, it seems he wasn't a Count) was a "good" vampire working for God (a bizarre interpretation of the historical Vlad Dracula’s papal honor – later rescinded - of Defender of the Faith) and the real villain of DRACULA was the historical Countess Elizabeth Bathory who, it turns out, was a vampire and was also Jack the Ripper.

That's pretty much the plot of this overwrought sequel. If those ideas excite you, you'll enjoy the book. If you're a Stoker purist, you'll be left in a state of shock.

Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt fill their book with bad ideas borrowed from the very sequels they decry as having tarnished Bram Stoker's reputation for decades. It’s all here jumbled together in one bloated unstructured mess: Mina and Dracula's torrid affair, Dracula's connection to Jack the Ripper, Dracula as the tragic hero rather than the Prince of Darkness Stoker intended, etc.


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