SOME­THING IN THE BLOOD Wham, fang, thank you Bram

SFX - - Reviews -

re­leased 28 Oc­tO­ber 672 pages | Hard­back/au­dio­book

Au­thor david J skal Pub­lisher liv­eright Pub­lish­ing

Too much rich food late one night caused the night­mare that in­spired Bram Stoker to write Drac­ula, it’s said. Noc­tur­nal nib­blers may be re­lieved, then, to read in this sub­stan­tial bi­og­ra­phy that although Stoker did in­deed claim that a gut­ful of dressed crab gave him the hor­rors, the story was just “a dab of blar­ney the writer en­joyed dish­ing out”.

That’s the least of the myths of Drac­ula’s cre­ation skew­ered by David J Skal; the “fact” that Stoker knew any­thing much about the his­tory of the real-life Vlad Dracul gets im­paled too. Skal shows how the Count co­a­lesced in Stoker’s un­con­scious, the prod­uct of a sickly youth grown into a sex­u­ally con­flicted Vic­to­rian the­atre man­ager.

Stoker’s in­ti­mate con­nec­tion to Os­car Wilde looms large, as does the way that his em­ployer, mon­strous ac­tor Henry Irv­ing, held him in a near-un­canny thrall. Many less fa­mil­iar fig­ures make walk-on ap­pear­ances, though – in­clud­ing Wildeob­sessed nov­el­ist Ge­orge Sylvester Viereck, per­haps the first of Stoker’s many im­i­ta­tors. But the 70-plus pages given over to the seven years Stoker spent draft­ing and re­draft­ing Drac­ula lie at the heart of this highly di­gestible feast. Alan Barnes

Stoker deleted an end­ing in which, after Drac’s death, Cas­tle Drac­ula de­stroyed it­self (like Poe’s House of Usher!).

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