My edition of Dracula is the tie-in for Francis Ford Coppola's movie. It includes a wonderful intro by Leonard Wolf and some black and white glossy pi...moreMy edition of Dracula is the tie-in for Francis Ford Coppola's movie. It includes a wonderful intro by Leonard Wolf and some black and white glossy pics from the movie (which I didn't mind because the costumes, makeup and setting were gorgeous despite the muddled adaptation). I really liked the intro that gave an overview of the history of vampire literature including the effect that Dracula had on mainstream culture (including all silver screen incarnations).
Today's audiences know the pop culture ideal of Dracula and his effects on vampire lore. Thus the great reveal isn't so great but the classic vampire story still holds up today. As a historical gothic horror, it's an amazing piece of work for setting a mood for a spooky tale as the inhabitants of Yorkshire are effected by Dracula's presence. Although not the first in vampire literature, it's easy to see how the influence was great in overall vampire culture. The style of journal entries revealing the character's fear and inner thoughts offers a type of storytelling that still seems fresh today in the age of 'found footage'.
One interesting aspect is Jonathan Harker's opening meditation on the various nationalities among the Carpathian mountains which reveal a lot of British thoughts toward "the other" immigrants of the time. Dracula himself is an exotic representation of such a background as well as the darkness of humanity. Mina Harker (nee Murray) turned out to be a pretty smart and strong yet vulnerable character. She's right there with the guys trying to dissect and figure out the deaths and mysteries surrounding their town and even gets armed with her own revolver towards the end climax.
I wish I had a chance to read this in depth when I was younger. I knew it in passing, from lightly flipping through it, and from pop culture but never had a chance to read it fully until now. I had studied the real life inspiration (Wallachian prince Vlad Tepes III aka Vlad Dracul aka the Impaler) and enjoyed all the behind the scenes docs on the book and historical figure. It was interesting seeing how much of real history Stoker incorporated in Dracula. I'm sure I would have eaten this book right up along with Interview With the Vampire. Modern audiences may think the story is a bit slow moving since most of the action takes place off screen and is talked about via the diary entries afterward. Still, the emotion is strong, the characters are multifaceted, the mood is dark and the dialogue is snappy. This is a definite new favorite of mine and will take it's place right next to the Vampire Chronicles and my The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories paperback.(less)
Vampires of the Scarlet Order reads like it belongs alongside the offerings in the Penguin's Book of Vampire Stories. Right alongside the greats of cl...moreVampires of the Scarlet Order reads like it belongs alongside the offerings in the Penguin's Book of Vampire Stories. Right alongside the greats of classic vampire literature.
There are a few wonderful twists and turns in this book that I'll try not to give away. I'll just say what I really loved about this book. I love the diary-like entries that allow each character to tell their story from their POV. As one reads on, they see how each character is connected down the line and the awesome history that dates back earliest during the Spanish Inquisition gave the book a timeless feel especially with the amount of real life figures placed in the story.
I love that Summers gave each character their own personality along with their backgrounds. It really made them stand out from each other. Being a fan of books from vampires and 'others' POVs I loved seeing the world through ancient eyes throughout the ages.
One thing about this book is that it was also so original. The vampire mythos is tied to various cultural mythologies which explains their origins. Summers definitely takes the tried and true vampire lore and makes it his own. The vampires within are complex characters that may do bad things but one is sympathetic to their lives and the trials they go through which makes them shades of grey.
Vampires of the Scarlet Order is a horror novel, a sci-fi novel, a paranormal novel and a historical novel all rolled into one awesome read. I bought this in eBook but I'm definitely snapping this up in paperback format for my keeper shelf. Right next to my Anne Rice collection and my Penguin Vampire Stories classic anthology. :-)
If this wasn't published 4 years ago, this would definitely go on my Best of 2008 list. But alas, it'll probably go on my Best Reads of 2008 List. :-)(less)