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Sunday, October 11, 2009

56. Dracula, the Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt



Title: Dracula, the Un-Dead
Author: Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt
Copyright: 2009
Pages: 411
Format: ARC from publisher
Available: 10-13-09
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Finished: 10-9-09

Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt's Dracula, the Un-Dead is the first official sequel to Bram Stoker's original Dracula. Dacre Stoker, a direct descendant of Bram Stoker and Ian Holt, a well-known Dracula historian, have pieced together a sequel based on notes that Bram Stoker had left about characters and plots that were removed from the original book.

I really enjoyed the story, if some of the plot threads seemed rather rushed. Taking place about 20 years after the events in Dracula, all the key players are still alive: Mina and Jonathan Harker are married, if somewhat unhappily, with a son, Quincey (named after Quincey Morris, who lost his life battling Dracula); Jack Seward has gone mad and has fallen more into his morphine addiction; Arthur Holmwood has taken up the title of Lord Godalming and is trying to forget the love of his life, Lucy Westenra; and Van Helsing is an old man now, trying to live long enough to finish his battle against the supernatural. Each of the key players from the original story have a part to play in this continuation, and each has to pay for their mistakes from before, one way or another.

We are finally introduced to more vampires, and begin to understand that there may be quite a few in the world. The main antagonist in the story is Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a centuries-old vampire who considers herself queen of her kind. She has turned from God completely, due to not only her vampiric state but also because she is a lesbian, and has been frowned upon by her family and the church since she was mortal. She holds a particular grudge against Dracula, and that grudge is never quite made apparent, nor is it clear on what Dracula's role in this story, or even his involvement in the original Dracula is, since we, as readers, may have been deceived from the beginning.

The weaving of historical figures and facts into the story was quite clever. There are ties to the Jack the Ripper murders in the story, and Bram Stoker himself even makes a guest appearance. You could tell that Stoker and Holt have done their homework, drawing on what I'm assuming are actual facts surrounding Bram Stoker's original ideas for the book and compounding on those, even dropping some of the history behind Dracula into this book as well.

I would have given this book 5 stars, except for the way the story ended. Having received an advanced reader copy, I don't know if I am just missing something from the ending of my copy of the book or not, but the story simply stops. I was riding along on a wave of anticipation, waiting to see what happens next, totally engulfed in the story, and I turn the page and... nothing. We get to a certain point, left with possible cliffhangers, but there is nothing left in the book; no indication that this is the first book in a series and that the story will be continued in a later edition, just nothing. So, I'll have to be stopping off to the store now to find a copy and see if there is still something left to this story that was left out of the edition I have, or if there is going to be another book released later. And if that is going to be the case, I'm going to be annoyed. I wish that they could just release everything into one book and be done with it. The trend of constantly needing to leave people dangling with such cliffhangers is getting a little overplayed, I feel.

Other than the book simply ending like it did, with no type of resolution whatsoever, I found the story to be completely entertaining. It was a fast-paced, roller coaster of a ride, touching on all the characters from the original, and adding in new characters that complimented the story well. I found myself missing the Gothic feel of the writing of the original, but writing another book in that style today probably wouldn't go over so well. I have read Dracula several times now, and part of my love for the story is the writing. I was hoping that this book would continue in that theme, also continuing on with the story told through the letters and journals of the key characters, like the original was. Stoker and Holt, however, have taken the book and really made it their own. It lacks something of the Gothic feel of the original, but plays homage enough to it that you can overlook the large stylistic changes. Overall, a fun read and a good enough sequel to the original.

It turns out that the copy of the book I received is missing the last 3-4 chapters (I checked a final copy at B&N the other day). As soon as I get a new copy in hand and actually finish the book, I may have more thoughts on the story.

1 comment:

Kathleen Gilligan said...

I keep hearing good things about this. Anything that's written well enough to be considered a "Dracula" sequel is definitely a must read.