Dracul - Clive Barker, Dacre Stoker

Cracking way to begin a new year of reading. This prequel to the classic is about as meta as it gets. Written by Stoker’s great-grandnephew & well known author J.D. Barker (The Fourth Monkey), it draws heavily from Bram Stoker’s childhood, journals & notes he scribbled while writing the original.

 

Bram, his family & real life acquaintances are the main characters. Also worth mentioning is some tall, thin, icky guy going by the name of Dracul who manages to steal a few scenes.

 

This is a proper horror story. The writing team has done a bang-up job of creating an original tale but in a style reminiscent of classics such as Frankenstein, Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde & of course, Dracula. It’s gothic creepiness at its best, a story that engages all your senses as it drags you kicking & screaming from Ireland to Germany & back again. (Be careful if you read this in public…you may find yourself drawing some strange looks as you mutter things like “Do NOT touch that”.)

 

Be sure to read the author’s note written by Dacre Stoker at the end. It’s full of fascinating tidbits of how the original manuscript was written then carefully edited to reflect the times. It was purchased at auction some years ago by Paul Allen (cofounder of Microsoft) & he granted access to the Stoker foundation but only after they signed a non-disclosure agreement. What is known is that the first 100 pages are missing.

 

It’s a gripping & skeery read that seamlessly combines fact, fiction & folklore. A must-read for fans of the original or Carlos Ruiz Zafón’s “Cemetery of Forgotten Books” series &  Lauren Owen’s “The Quick”.