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Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula

3.61  ·  Rating details ·  365 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Powers of Darkness is an incredible literary discovery: In 1900, Icelandic publisher and writer Valdimar Ásmundsson set out to translate Bram Stoker’s world-famous 1897 novel Dracula. Called Makt Myrkranna (literally, “Powers of Darkness”), this Icelandic edition included an original preface written by Stoker himself. Makt Myrkranna was published in Iceland in 1901 but remained undiscovered outsid ...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 7th 2017 by Harry N. Abrams (first published 1897)
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May 24, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: horror-gothic
Powers of Darkness is the version of Dracula found on the bookshelves (or in the databanks, as the case may be) of Star Trek’s Mirror Universe. Further evidence of how screwed up that parallel universe is.

Powers of Darkness was the product of Stoker’s collaboration with the author, an Icelander, apparently based on early notes and drafts of the Irishman’s classic novel. It is not an Icelandic Dracula translated back into English, however. At some point, Ásmundsson went off on his own tack to produce what we have here. The firs/>Powers
Sean Chick
Jun 14, 2019 rated it it was ok
The first 2/3 are actually better than the opening part of Dracula. The horror, sexuality, and mystery are turned up and the Count is even more evil here. Indeed, he is a kind of violent social-Darwinist intent on spreading reactionary thought and undermining democracy, although that part remains in the background, almost as if to encourage a sequel.

Once the book leaves Castle Dracula it utterly falls apart and I am at a loss why Ásmundsson crammed so much into only 60 pages. Was he bored? At a
Apr 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Story - 4 stars (mostly for popularizing the Vamp myth)
Narration - 5 Stars (the Harker character sounds like Douglas Fairbanks Jr)
Overall - 4.5 stars (because I liked it better than the original)

In this version Harker still spends too much time wandering through Castle Dracula, like a mouse trapped in a maze, and with a bad case of faintheartedness. And the Count spends very little time in London. But I think I like this version better. It seems more full, somehow.
Feb 05, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc-paper
I was fortunate to receive an ARC of this book.

The rating is 3 stars for the novel Powers of Darkness but 5 stars on the historical information in the preface.

What can you say when you find all the prefacing information more interesting than the book itself? The first 67 pages of this book are filled with a wealth of information about Stoker and the original skeleton of the novel Dracula (some marked changes by the time of its publication in 1897!) and the fact that Stoker appear
The introduction giving the assumed backstory of this version got a bit long & unwieldy. I often don't enjoy reading the intros of books first because I find they often give too many spoilers of the story &/or don't make a lot of sense in what they are referring to because you (the reader) don't yet know the story & the framing around it. In this case, though, I felt it was important to read the intro so that I would have the proper background of the story going in (plus I already kn ...more
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: own
Hans de Roos' well-researched Powers of Darkness is both enlightening and an awful lot of fun. De Roos' fondness for his source material is contagious and the wealth of information presented in the introduction, footnotes, and website component is phenomenal! While Valdimar Ásmundsson's Icelandic translation of Bram Stoker's novel has a long history in Dracula scholarship through Stoker's "Author's Preface" to the book that suggested a link between the events in Dracula and the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888 (De Roo ...more
Lance Eaton
Shortly after the original Dracula was published, it was translated and published in Iceland. However, this version is a significantly different version of Dracula than what readers are familiar with. This version focuses about two-thirds of its time on Thomas Harker (as opposed to Jonathan in Stoker's original novel) and his time spent traveling to and in Dracula's castle. Within the castle, readers are exposed to entirely new plot threads that include a seductive female vampire that Harker is ...more
Kevin L
Nov 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
3.75 stars. Part one of this interesting translation of Dracula was quite good. It expands on Harker’s time at Castle Dracula and provides some interesting contrasts to Stoker’s novel.

Part two is actually quite bad. This portion is rushed and passive and provides no engagement whatsoever. The departure from the epistolary format to simple narrative summaries falls completely flat. Thankfully part two is very short (which contributes to a very brusque feel).

Still worth rea
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it
What a weird book.

So, there are obviously multiple translations, into multiple languages of Bram Stoker's OG Vampire masterpiece, Dracula. (Nosferatu me all you want, Stoker's widow sued for primacy.) This volume, extensively annotated and researched, pulls together a version that's a sort of hybrid of Stoker's original and an Icelandic influenced one that may be the result of collaboration between Stoker and this new(ish) author, Asmundsson. Some differences are notable and some are
Alexandra Pearson
Mar 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a peculiar and wonderful book! Not technically amazing, the second half reads like they all just got a bit bored, but for the light it sheds on Dracula, it's well worth a read.
Marthe Bijman
Sep 07, 2018 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: vampire fans, lovers of all things “Dracula”
This is the Icelandic version of Bram Stoker’s famous Victorian Gothic novel, Dracula. Powers of Darkness, called Makt Myrkranna, “the power of darkness” in Icelandic, was first published on Jan. 13, 1900, by Valdimar Ásmundsson, and translated and republished in English in 2017 by Hans C. de Roos after years of research. In case you are wondering - is it real?, bear in mind that Ásmundsson was real. He was the editor of the newspaper, Fjallkonan (“Mountain King”) in which his novel was first published. So what I am pondering, which you might also be pocalled Makt ...more
A.K. Preston
Dec 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book proved a gem of a find and fascinating reading, both for its contents and its history. Powers of Darkness was written in 1901 by writer Valdimar Asmundsson as a translation of Dracula into his native Icelandic. It was only in 2014, however, that researchers discovered that he had not merely translated Bram Stoker’s classic but written an entirely new version of the story. The result is a highly original plot and characters that can be read in their own right.

The most fascinating of th
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
I first learned of this alternate version of Dracula a few weeks ago thanks to this article by the translator and annotator of the work, Hans Corneel de Roos. If you don't know what Powers of Darkness is about, go read that and then hop back here.

okay so you can see why I was excited, right? I mean I'm no Dracula scholor or Stoker nut, I have only read it maybe three times. But still, what an interesting opportunity and insight into Stoker's process as well as the difference in cultural norms in Iceland v
Joe Young
Sep 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-i-own
It’s one of those names which automatically fills in its own back-story. In 1897 Bram Stoker created what has turned out to be a phenomenon, a 19th Century horror novel which is still enjoying global popularity in the 21st Century and will most probably still be entertaining people for centuries to come. It is as seemingly immortal and indestructible as the Count himself.

I’d say it’s a fair bet that there will be very few locations and very few peoples globally who are unfami
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it
Over the years of my vampire fandom, I thought I had read most of the classic vampire novels and stories out there. I think I had even heard of Makt Myrkranna in one of the books I have read (probably David J. Skal's Hollywood Gothic.) But I never thought I'd be able to read it so I shuffled it to the back of my memory banks and went on with my life. But then this comes along, an english translation of this supposedly lost version of Dracula.
The opening essays on the history of this book
Richard Bartholomew
Bram Stoker’s preface to the Icelandic edition of Dracula first appeared in English in 1986, in a "Bram Stoker Omnibus" containing the text of Dracula and The Liar of the White Worm and notable for its slightly naff dust-jacket featuring a photo of a becaped model in "new Romantic" pop-singer make-up. The text (as back-translated by Richard Dalby) mentions "a series of crimes" that "created as much repugnance in people everywhere as the murders of Jack the Ripper", and makes an enigmatic reference to a "re ...more
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: horror, vampires
My feelings on this book are obviously rather mixed. The discovery of a lost version of Dracula is of a great deal of interest to me, and I also enjoy the fact that it's Icelandic since I've studied the Icelandic sagas Asmundsson drew some of his language and style from. Of course, since I don't speak or read Icelandic, much of that is lost on me, but it's still interesting to see it in the notes. The introduction is interesting, especially in regards to the discussion of how this book came abou ...more
Soukyan Blackwood
Jan 25, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: dracula
all reviews in one place:
night mode reading
skaitom nakties rezimu

About: The book is not ground-breakingly different. The essence is exactly the same. Except that here, after a very, very long debate by translators and whoever else at the start, we get different proportions, and slightly differently toned characters. For instance, while we had a fairly short visit at Dracula’s castle, or at least a short description, for it wasn’t all that short for Harker, and then a longer story of the hunt
Tobin Elliott
Aug 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
What an interesting "alternate universe" look at the story of Dracula.

First, the bad. I have complaints over two things:

1 - The seemingly neverending introductions. Yes, we definitely needed some context as to how this all came about, and knowing a bit about that would help. But literally, the first fifth of the book? Too much. Everyone wants to be the first to speak, but how about you let us get through the story, theninundate us with the facts?

2 - Everything after Thomas (don't call me Jo
Atom Mudman
Mar 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Asmundsson understood the Harker parts had the best potential for horror. Dracula's wild, rambling structure gives it the feeling more of an adventure novel than a Gothic piece, which is awkward because it's told, as Powers of Darkness is, through letters and diary entries. It's weird to hear the tale of a frantic carriage chase recounted post-facto in a journal. But the bulk of Powers of Darkness reads like something someone found in Dracula's castle next to Thomas Harker's emaciated corpse--y ...more
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it
I love translated works. This is Bram Stokers "Dracula" as it was translated by an Icelandic publisher who took some verbal freedom and made some changes along the way. It was then translated again. It starts out in English, then Icelandic then back to English. The fist half gets along at a splendid pace and the conversations are pretty good between Thomas (Johnathan) and the Count, the translator does a good job of identifying the changes made in the Icelandic translation. However, the second h ...more
Damean Mathews
Oct 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I was able catch and consume this book just days after its U.S. release and I was floored. I love it. I think I love the idea that there numerous adaptations of what I still believe to be one of the greatest vampire novels ever written floating around out there. The translation to English, while making some things a little rocky, was very smooth and the story itself held just enough to the bare bones of the original that I could relate to it, but it was so new that I was enraptured for the entir ...more
Mar 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Powers of Darkness (Makt Myrkranna) is the Icelandic translation of Dracula, now translated back to English. Part gripping story, party literary analysis, this edition will bring Dracula to you as you've never seen him before. In the forwards and the explanations, you can read how it's theorized that "Powers of Darkness" is based on Stoker's notes on Dracula and previous drafts of the story. This version spends more time on Harker's time trapped in Dracula castle. This book captures what is so b ...more
Dec 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a most fascinating book for the Dracula devotee. Bram Stoker sent the manuscript for Dracula to Iceland to have it translated prior to publication there. Valdimar Ásmundsson apparently was given a rather free hand with the manuscript, and there are also signs that this was an early version of the story, with elements that Stoker later removed before publishing in English.

In 2014, Hans De Roos translated the Icelandic version back into English. As a scholar, there are many int
Feb 18, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fic
I liked this waaaay more than Bram Stoker's version. Scarier and sexier.
Most of the story takes place in Dracula's castle, so you get to explore all that creepiness PLUS you get way more time listening to Dracula talk. I enjoyed that character development. Dracula is also much less of a romantic character than in Stoker's, more of a militaristic Faustian beast-monster libertine. The portion that takes place in England is way shorter, which I was also down with, because I always found that
Nov 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
so I have read Dracula many times - so I found the idea of a newly discovered unknown version of Dracula very interesting. I found this version very different from the well-known version/classic. In my mind the classic is in three sections: Harker's adventures in Castle Dracula, Dracula's adventures in England (Lucy and Mina), and finally the chase to stop Dracula as he tries to get home.

This version has the first two sections - Harker's adventures are a bit different but still menac
Jun 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2017
I was looking forward to this book when I heard it came out, and it did not disappointed. If anything, this fixed Dracula for me, which I did like, but had some issues with. Its like the author (Vladimir) did as well and sought out to fix it. I'm glad this book was found and translated so it can be enjoyed by all audiences. I have read mixed reviews on it, but I have nothing but good things to say about it. I'm glad they made Harker less of a pansy in this version, and reduced the three charming ...more
Mar 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although I loved my first foray into Bram Stoker's 1897 Dracula, Vladimir Asmundsson's Powers of Darkness is a fascinating look into the intricacies of translation and adaptation, as well as cultural context. It's amazing to look at the multiple paths and changes that can occur to a text with new input, and whether this translation was actually a close collaboration of authors or Asmundsson's sole interpretation, it created a wholly different reading experience. Hans De Roos' annotations were in ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was ok
This translation by Asmundsson brings the reader in claustrophobic closeness with the monster, Dracula. In that, this was a enjoyable and creepy read. However, the translation suffers imbalance as nearly all of it happens in the castle and rest of the original story is cut down to such minimal treatment as to feel like a mere outline. The book itself spends an enormous amount of text on the history of Stoker's book and relationships before and after the actual translation. This may be a treat fo ...more
Maggie May
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
It was interesting to see how another writer approached Stoker's iconic story before it became a cultural phenomenon. The first thing I have to say is that it really bothered me that the characters were called Thomas and Wilma instead of Jonathan and Mina, I am too attached to those characters to use other names. The real changes were fun to compare but did not improve the story. This book is more interesting to read as a glimpse into history than anything else. I recommend it for any fans of Dr ...more
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He was born Abraham Stoker in 1847 at 15 Marino Crescent – then as now called "The Crescent" – in Fairview, a coastal suburb of Dublin, Ireland. His parents were Abraham Stoker and the feminist Charlotte Mathilda Blake Thornely. Stoker was the third of seven children. Abraham and Charlotte were members of the Clontarf Church of Ireland parish and attended the parish church (St. John the Baptist lo ...more