Prequel to most famous horror tale
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