The Count Dracula saga continues. The great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker, Dacre Stoker, with the help of Ian Holt, offers Dracula the Un-Dead: The Sequel to the Original Classic. The sequel contains more gore, more descriptive action, and lesbianism. It should appeal to the modern reader who may have found the classic Dracula boring. However, if you liked the classic, then you may not like the sequel.
While Bram’s story pushed the societal limits for its era, Dacre and Ian feel less constrained. In an early scene we find Countess Elizabeth Bathory and her two female minions doing an S&M number on one of their virginal victims. The decrepit, old, and morphine-addled Jack Seward looks on in despair and outrage. Without the aid of his fellow Dracula hunters, he is powerless to help the tortured maiden.
Even though Seward has warned them and sought their assistance, Jonathon and Mina Harker, Van Helsing, and Arthur Holmwood refuse to believe devilish danger is close. Instead the former heroes lead haunted lives, unable to overcome the evil in their past. Jonathon and Mina’s marriage is failing, and only the desire to protect their grown son, Quincey, keeps them together. Arthur mourns for Lucy, and Van Helsing suffers from a heart condition.
Some sequels do not require the reader to have read previous books. In this case, I highly recommend reading Dracula first so the characters are fresh in your memory. Dracula the Un-Dead incorporates all of the characters from the original story, and many of the scenes. Without this knowledge the book may be difficult to follow.
In addition to using familiar names and scenes from the original Dracula, Dacre and Ian include historical events. They intertwine the legend of Jack the Ripper into their story to enhance the plot. Even Bram Stoker makes an appearance directing the theatrical production of Dracula, and Dacre provides some glimpses into Bram’s life.
Bram told his story as an epistolary novel, through the use of letters, newspaper articles and documents. Dacre and Ian take a more traditional literary approach, and tell the story through prose. This makes for a more suspenseful and smoothly flowing story than the original Dracula. Initially, the writing styles are so much different I had difficulty immersing myself in the story. Eventually, I got into the rhythm of story, and ended up staying up most of the night reading it.
Dacre and Ian build a story with varying degrees of evil. They ask the reader at what point does evil become acceptable. How dirty would you be willing to get in order to protect society, your family, or yourself? Would you be willing to sacrifice your soul for a loved one? Think of these questions as you read Dracula the Un-Dead.