Remember all the horror movies that claim they’re inspired/based on real events? This book is a written version of those movies.
The famous author of Dracula, Bram Stoker, is a character here, in a story much like the novel he is best remembered for. One of the authors of the book Dracul, is his great grandnephew, Dacre Stoker. I don’t know what he intended to do with this novel but I don’t think he succeeded in making a niche in horror genre like his great granduncle had done more than a century ago.
Dracul is very much like Dracula, not because the titles are 90% the same. Because the story is a fresh yet failed take on the old tale most of us love. That’s right. This novel is like old wine presented in a new bottle. The same old thing we found in Dracula has been retold, albeit not enough to stand out, in this novel. I even found counterparts of the beloved characters from Bram Stoker’s masterpiece.
Bram Stoker: a mixture of Jonathan Harker and Mina Harker née Murray.
Matilda Stoker: Mina Harker née Murray (though she is Bram’s older sister here)
Emily Stoker: Lucy Westenra
Thornley Stoker: Arthur Holmwood/Dr. John Seward
Arminius Vambéry: Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
Count Dracula: Dracul
The only new additions to the cast is Ellen Crone and her tragic story. I was a bit skeptical of her storyline and her name (Crone? Seriously??). She was made to add a new aftertaste to the old wine, but the dominant taste remained. The story, down to its skeleton core, is very much the same with a very dissatisfying ending, unlike the original novel. Hunting down the scary, evil Count Dracula who is from some castle in Transylvania.
I was hopeful in the beginning, in part one, when Bram and the others were kids, and had Ellen Crone as their nanny. The strangeness with which she mesmerized the entire Stoker family and then the bizarre mystery behind her existence was very well done. In my honest opinion, this is the part where Bram Stoker’s life truly resembled, even though the supernatural parts made me doubt it actually happened.
But after part one, when we enter part two, the story begins to smell of the old tale Dacre Stoker’s ancestor charmed us with. Bram and his siblings are all grown up and most of them are established. Yet the mystery and horror of their childhood remains. Motivated by nothing but curiosity (not a good character motivation), Matilda and Bram begin to investigate about their Nanna Ellen and the death of a local they’d known in their childhood, Patrick O’Cuiv. Meanwhile, a side story happens with Bram’s older brother, Thornley, whose wife begins to exhibit strange behavior, similar to Lucy Westenra.
I won’t spoil anything here but I’ll tell you, this book tested my patience and made me wanna DNF it. The last time my patience was tested was when I read the long long very long novel, The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk. If you’re a devout fan of Dracula and its retelling, go for this book. But after reading about Kirsten White’s superbly fresh and exciting new retelling of Lada, gender-swapped Count Dracula, in AND I DARKEN series, I don’t think Dracula retellings will do good by milking the same cow again and again.