Pre­quel to most fa­mous hor­ror tale

Havelock North Village Press - - News - Graeme Bar­row

This is a pre­quel to the most fa­mous fan­tasy/hor­ror novel of them all — Drac­ula by Bram Stoker. Dacre Stoker is his great-grand-new­phew, and has made a busi­ness out of the fam­ily con­nec­tion. He man­ages the Stoker es­tate, and has also writ­ten Drac­ula — The Un­dead, and The Lost Jour­nal of Bram Stoker — The Dublin Years.

The char­ac­ters here are the young Bram Stoker, his in­trepid sis­ter Matilda, and Ellen Crone, a young woman the Stoker fam­ily take in. The set­ting is the Dublin area dur­ing the De­pres­sion, with dis­ease and star­va­tion rav­aging the peo­ple.

Ellen is com­pe­tent and car­ing, but mys­te­ri­ous. She has pow­ers, in­clud­ing heal­ing, and she saves the life of the young and sickly Bram.

She is def­i­nitely strange, and tends to van­ish for a cou­ple of days with­out warn­ing. And Bram and his sis­ter dis­cover, dur­ing one of her ab­sences, that she does not sleep in her bed but be­neath it, in a cra­dle of dank, foul-smelling earth, with worms and roaches alive in­side it.

We are now in the world of vam­pires who must drink blood, prefer­ably hu­man, to give them the pow­ers of mov­ing through time, bring­ing dead peo­ple back to life, and en­slav­ing those of the un­born.

I did not find it as ter­ri­fy­ing as some, rather more grue­some and at times dis­gust­ing, but there is def­i­nite ten­sion here, which in­creases un­til a sur­pris­ingly lame con­clu­sion. Per­haps that’s un­avoid­able with pre­quels.

Au­thors J. D. Barker (left) and Dacre Stoker.

DraculBy Dacre Stoker with J. D. Barker Pen­guin Ran­dom­house, $37

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