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Book Review: Vlad by Carlos Fuentes

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Vlad by Carlos Fuentes is a short novel taking place in Mexico City. The story was part of the 2004 collection “Inquieta Compañía” and recently came out as its own book translated by Alejandro Branger and Ethan Shaskan Bumas.

Count Dracula, Vlad, has decided to immigrate to Mexico after the mayhem in Eastern Europe and countless wars have shortened his blood supplies. Vlad has vassals in Mexico who introduce him to Yves Navarro, a lawyer, and his wife Asunción, a real estate agent.

Yves and Asunción have lost a son at sea, and Vlad entices them with the promise of seeing their daughter live forever, remaining a child eternally.

Vlad takes on an interesting premise: what if Dracula still lived, and settled in Mexico City? As one might expect, there is a lot of dark humor in this book, starting with the strange requests the client makes of the real estate agent (“remote,” “easy to defend”) to the client’s look which consists of a silly wig and glued-on mustache.

What I found to be different in this book is that the reader knows a lot more than the narrator. This style of storytelling invigorates the dark comedy and brings a sense of ominous foreboding to banal and meaningless lines said by the famous Count.

In this rendition of the story, Fuentes marries vampire and lawyers – both serve as vessels for unprincipled lust without ethics. As in many vampire stories, the fantasy and myth reflect on our own lives through anecdotes and metaphors.

While I’m not much for horror and fear, I think this novel is a gem which clearly illustrates the essence of great writing, characterization, and flamboyancy, which are difficult to pull off. The balances between horror and comedy, debauchery and personification are perfect and the campy yet surreal atmosphere is almost magical.

Related Reads:
Dracula by Bram Stoker

  • 112 pages
  • Publisher: Dalkey Archive Press; Tra edition
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1564787796

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