With Halloween just a day away, it seemed like a perfect time to talk about the book Dracul from Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker. If the name Stoker sounds vaguely familiar it is because Dacre Stoker is the great grand-nephew of Bram Stoker. Dracul, which was released earliest this month, is a prequel to Bram Stoker's book, Dracula.
Let's start with a brief history lesson. According to the author's notes in Dracul, Bram Stoker's original manuscript of Dracula was rejected by his publisher. Stoker had originally pitched the book as being a true story, which concerned the publisher. With London still reeling from the Jack the Ripper murders, the publisher feared the book would cause a widespread panic. Stoker made significant changes to Dracula, which included cutting the first 100 pages from the novel. Dracula was published in 1897. Fast forward to the 21st century. Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker embark on a quest to recreate the first 100 pages from Bram Stoker's notes and various first editions of Dracula from around the world. The result is the new book, Dracul.
Dracul tells the tale of Bram Stoker's own experiences with the evil vampire named Dracula and the armies of the undead. As a child, Bram Stoker was sickly and close to death. Only the mysterious actions of his nanny, Ellen Crone saves him from dying as a child. But, what is the cost for Bram and his family? As Bram and his sister and brother grow older, they find that their lives have each been touched in a dark way by their relationship with Ellen. From the castle ruins of Dublin to the village of the undead in Munich, Bram and his siblings race across Europe to defeat a mysterious man in black who dogs their trail at every step.
I'll sum my thoughts about Dracul into one simple sentence. This is the best book I've read in 2018. It had me in suspense from the very first page. Stoker and Barker weave together a tale that is dark, deep, and thrilling. Despite the "blood-sucking" subject, they keep the gore to a minimum making it a good read even for those that are a bit squeamish. Dracul is filled with Gothic dread and suspense, and is written in the finest traditions of 19th century horror. This isn't a retelling of the original Dracula. It is more of a lead-in to it. Dracul stands on its own as a phenomenal book, but when added to the original work of Bram Stoker, it becomes a homage worthy of the master.
Stoker and Barker's Dracul makes a fine addition to the Dracula canon, and makes the perfect read for this Halloween season.
Read my interview with J.D. Barker here.