**spoiler alert** I have to say I was ecstatic to read Dracula Undead, especially knowing it was written by a direct descendant from the Stoker family**spoiler alert** I have to say I was ecstatic to read Dracula Undead, especially knowing it was written by a direct descendant from the Stoker family and authorized by its estate. I found myself excited when I received the gorgeous book in dark red and crinkled aged paper stain design that made it look like it was ancient. Even the pages themselves were gorgeously put together. I was a little nervous about the blurb which told where all of our heroes were. Heroes that fell from grace, sure, but maybe there's a spiffy character arc that puts them through the ringer and they will eventually arise to fight through it all.
As I read Dracula Undead, my excitement slowly waned. From the gory S&M type of opening with Countess Elizabeth Bathory killing a hapless young woman to Jonathan Harker's infidelity, Mina's mooning over Dracula (because she somehow lost her virginity to him??), to Harker's vicious impaling, Seward's junkie status and Quincey's anger and disdain for his parents....ah, I can't go on. Everything that was amazing, classic and wonderful about Dracula was unraveled in a few chapters of this "sequel". Where Dracula created a sense of dread, fear and uneasiness through the power of word and mood, Dracula Undead bashes the reader over the head with gore, dismemberment, impalement and depraved characters. Bram Stoker himself even makes an appearance, which could have been interesting, but instead falls flat as a washed up has-been in a loveless marriage trying to regain his once literary status by making his famous Dracula into a play. Played by actor John Barrymore no less. It is the last reach for struggling to regain his celeb status for the last time. Dracula himself is merely in the book despite given a description in the blurb and in the title. In fact, everyone but Dracula is in this book including Jack the Ripper style murders and investigations.
Dracula Undead suffers from too many cooks in the kitchen with no idea where to go. Once the reader gets an idea for where the story may be headed, it takes another turn as if the camera cuts away from this scene to start a completely new one and so on and so on. There are about four or five stories going on at the same time with too many characters which doesn't give the story the focus it deserves.
I couldn't help noticing that this book isn't quite a sequel to Bram Stoker's Dracula, at least definitely not in mood and continuity. Its action packed, dark, gory blood splattered and sexually drenched pages matched that of a narrative version of a script for a big budget follow up to Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula. As I looked into the making of this book, I found out Ian Holt, co-writing with Dacre Stoker, was the main driving force for this book and he is indeed a screenwriter who plans to bring this book to the big screen next year. I don't think I'll be watching it. I wasn't too jazzed about Coppola's Dracula and from the mixture of real life Bathory mixed with fictional characters (complete with incestuous deflowering by her Aunt and a blood relation to Dracula himself), it looks like we'll be seeing more of the same as in the first film.
Dracula Undead as the inklings of a well written story that falls short. I did like the setting (until it turned into Blade: 1912) and the characters definitely had passion. Unfortunately, from the author's voice and treatment of said characters, I get the feeling that the authors didn't like the characters nor Stoker himself very much. Dacre Stoker has said in a recent article that "all the Stokers in his generation were pretty blasé" about legacy of Dracula. It definitely shows in how different and cold these characters are from the original story.
If this book was called something else in another world with other characters and a completely separate situation, the chance of enjoyment would be a bit higher (barring the overstuffed narrative at times). But knowing and loving Dracula by Bram Stoker, the history for how it came about and the wonderful addition it's given to horror and gothic literature, I can't recommend or enjoy this current book.
There's another book similarly titled Dracula Undead by Freda Warrington that will be re-released this December. I hear it keeps the tone, continuity and care for the characters introduced in Dracula. I think that one may be more enjoyable. ...more