Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

HarperCollins (2009)

ISBN: 978-0-00-732395-1

Reviewed by Tehani Wessely

To be brutally honest, the best part of this book was the essay at the end, where the authors explain the genesis of the novel and outline their writing and plot decision-making processes. It’s not a bad book, but neither is it the kind of compelling read I was hoping for.

The original Dracula, by Dacre Stoker’s great-granduncle Bram Stoker, is now seen as the blueprint for vampire literature and film. It holds the seeds that spawned Twilight, Vampire Academy, Evernight and all the current crop of teen-fangfests that abound on our shelves, albeit in an almost unrecognisable form at times. Over the decades since its publication, Hollywood has drawn on Stoker’s story and embellished it, writers have used his vampire “lore” and moulded it to suit themselves.

Set some 25 years after the events of Dracula, this book has Quincey Harker – the son of Mina and Jonathan – fighting his father’s wishes. Quincey wants to be an actor, not a solicitor, and when he meets charismatic Romanian actor Basarab, he finds the courage to break with his family to follow his dream. But this is the least of the Harkers’ worries. Someone, or something, is stalking the original band of vampire hunters and killing them – could Dracula still be alive and taking revenge, or is it something else even more cruel and evil than the Prince himself? Mina finds herself in a frantic quest to save her son, and her own immortal soul.

Dacre Stoker and his co-author Holt profess their aim was to create “… a book that is close to Bram’s original gothic vision – while modernizing it at the same time…” (p. 403). They have worked with the original story (with a great deal of this novel being retellings of the original adventure of Van Helsing, Mina, Jonathan and company), made some alterations to the “lore” as suited them, but trying to stay true to the original tale. For the most part, I think they have succeeded. They cleverly worked in some authentic historical detail, particularly the Jack the Ripper story that comprised much of the plotline for this book. I was disappointed in the writing itself – it is very distancing, and while a much of the book is action-based, it always felt like I was a isolated observer of this, which meant I didn’t become as submerged in the story as I would have liked.

It’s clear that the publishers are hoping the vampire craze with ensure this book sells well. I think lovers of the original book will enjoy its sequel. I’m not so sure younger readers will appreciate it, and it’s certainly not targeted at the average teen Twilight reader. The pages contain some graphic sex scenes (including a lesbian scene) and overt violence, although the violence is, as I mentioned, quite distantly written, and not as shocking. I’m cautious about recommending this for school libraries, although it may be suitable for some senior students, particularly boys who are interested in the vampire story but not the girlified version of the vampire legend that has occurred in recent YA literature!