Thursday, October 29, 2009

Dracula the Undead by Dacre Stoker & Ian Holt

It's been one of those weeks and judging from my fellow PRomantics, I'm not the only one! Whew!

With a week full of edits, writings, reading events in Second Life and still trying to take some down time with reading for pleasure, Thursday sure came up pretty quick!

So here's my review of Dracula the Undead. Beware some spoilers ahead!






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 at the current time. 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.

Sadly, in the end I was a bit bummed out. What seemed really awesome in theory turned out to be a rather confusing mesh of fictional and real history, narrative and screenwriting technique with a rather uneven tone. I loved the fact that we got to see Mina and Jonathan's son Quincey, named after the Harker's Texan friend who helped them defeat Dracula, as a grown man seeking his dream of becoming an actor instead of his father's preferred field of law.

The rest of the cast, er characters rather, are definitely heroes that have fallen from grace. Jonathan can't stand to look at Mina who has an unhealthy fixation on Dracula so he finds solace in various prostitutes (those who liked the HEA and love between the two will be sorely saddened here). Seward, still broken up over his love for the late Lucy so he finds comfort in heavy doses of morphine, Arthur Holmwood has married again but hates his wife. The real life Countess Bathory makes an appearance as the main villainess who likes to seduce and brutally kill young women. Throw in a bit of Jack the Ripper, the real Bram Stoker, actor John Barrymore and his sister Ethel and tons of other real and fictional people and you've got a smorgasbord of stories running all at once. Unfortunately, from the authors' voice and treatment of said characters, I get the feeling that the authors didn't like the characters nor Stoker himself very much. I like dark books as much as the next girl. I'm even reading Anne Stuart's Black Ice and am loving it so much, but here the focus seems to show the characters in the ugliest way possible before attempting to kill them off one by one.

I think Dracula Undead may suffer 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.

Where Dracula created a sense of dread, fear and uneasiness through the power of word and mood, Dracula Undead is a straight out horror that seems to be written especially for the screen. For readers who haven't read Dracula by Bram Stoker and are looking for an action packed historical horror novel with a modern sensibility, I think they'd be able to enjoy this book. Those who are big fans of Stoker's original will find themselves disappointed in the many changes in their beloved characters and continuity along with the lack of Dracula himself until about 3/4's into the novel.

6 comments:

Annie Nicholas said...

A very honest and thorough review, Rae. Sadly, I still haven't read either. I wonder why he waited until the last quarter to bring out Dracula. As a reader, his presence is what I would have bought the book for.

J Hali said...

Thanks, Rae, for your thorough review. I'll read it, but it will go way down the list behind hundreds of other books I want to read. I'm not sure I'm ready to lose my vision of the characters!

Maybe I'll wait for the movie...

Ari Thatcher said...

I'm dying to hear more about readings on Second Life. I've only seen them in passing. That sounds like an awesome promo tool!

Rae Lori said...

Annie, I agree. I was rather surprised myself about it as well. Bathory seemed to come out of nowhere and she wasn't even focused much within the blurb.

Joann, probably best. It seemed to read as though it were a screenplay first that was turned into a book. I'd suggest checking out Warrington's version as I hear she keep the characters in tact while still continuing the story. :-)

Ari, I think you'd love them! If you want, feel free to email me (Rachel AT RaeLori DOT com)and I'd be happy to share info and stuff about them. Second Life is becoming an awesome growing community of writers and readers. I love it!

Virginia C said...

This book had a very large coffin to fill.

gcwhiskas at aol dot com

Mitz said...

Great review Rae...
I haven't got the chance to read this one yet, but agree I'm intriguied just by the other let alone the whole the fact that I loved the first Dracula by his ancestor Bram Stoker. Liked how honest you are with your views on the books you read. I think alot of pepole don't really say much if they don't like something about the book. It's always nice to find an honest review, thanks for that...

misty_labean@yahoo.com