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Renfield: Slave of Dracula Hardcover – September 5, 2006


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Berkley Hardcover (September 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0425211681
  • ISBN-13: 978-0425211687
  • Product Dimensions: 8.2 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,368,075 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Like Tim Lucas in The Book of Renfield (2005), Hambly retells Bram Stoker's Dracula from the viewpoint of its most memorable peripheral character, the mad, insect-eating Renfield. His role as the count's human factotum and facilitator complicates a larger story in which Renfield struggles to conceal from conniving relatives and doctors the whereabouts of his beloved wife and daughter. Though Renfield dies at his employer's hands before the end in Stoker's original, Hambly (Circle of the Moon) contrives an imaginative way to prolong his involvement in the story. Unfortunately, the madman's ravings become repetitive, tedious and improbable once certain truths about him are revealed. Though Hambly tries to craft a portrait of Renfield as a tragic victim, his frequent references to Stoker's characters and their adventures only remind the reader that a more interesting vampire adventure is unfolding beyond the borders of Renfield's asylum and the events of this novel. (Sept.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Hambly has retold Bram Stoker's Dracula in the voice of a minor character, Renfield, the madman who becomes the vampire's slave-agent in England. In Stoker's original, Renfield is a harbinger, extremely strong and violent, given to an unnatural diet of flies. When Dracula occupies the estate next to the asylum in which he is confined, Renfield attempts several escapes, claiming that his master is calling him. Hambly creates a past for this possessed man via his diaries and letters to his wife and gives him occasional lucid moments. When Dracula imposes himself on Renfield's deteriorated mind, he, bound to an active purpose, becomes yet more lucid. When Dracula orders him to kill Van Helsing, he isn't strong enough to refuse, but on the journey from London to Transylvania, he develops the strength to resist the count, find allies, and eventually retrace his journey back from lunacy to sanity. Hambly superbly weaves Stoker's plot and style with her own, producing one of the best recent vampire yarns. Frieda Murray
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

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The book's not "bad"--Hambly doesn't do bad--but it really is...inconsistent.
Catherine Carter
Hambly retells Bram Stoker's tale through the eye's of Renfield with this book and takes absolutely no liberties with Stoker's original story, which made me so happy!
Chris Howard
Hambly is a superb story teller and does an excellent job with this alternate view of the Dracula story.
Patricia Altner

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Catherine Carter on January 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Some of the earlier reviews some it up: the story is slight compared to the original Stoker novel and compared to Hambly's other work. It compares well to many of the host of truly embarrassing vampire novels that throng the shelves today, but that's to be expected of Hambly, a novelist with a gift for imagining truly and seeing with her own eyes. The narrator is neither truly sympathetic--a madman already, he's now made a murderer by Hambly--nor truly monstrous in the best vampire tradition. It's foreshadowed that Renfield's not going to get back together with his family, but we don't feel for him enough to care much. And Rensfield's decisions--if the point is to make us feel he had no other choice, that he's a tragic victim, we just don't get that. If he really loathes his vampire existence so much, would he be heading off to India with the Bride of Dracula, and would the last line of the book be an ecstatic anticipation of new and yummy insect life? Would he relinquish his staking plans so comfortably? If the point is to show us a self-deluded madman who can make any selfish or brutal choice seem justifiable, and perhaps to draw connections between Renfield and contemporary figures who do the same thing, then it's better done in ateen novel about date rape, from the rapist's point of view. If the point is to comment on the narrow choices of Victorian women (given Rensfield's reason for his murders), that theme comes and goes in a manner almost waffling. The book's not "bad"--Hambly doesn't do bad--but it really is...inconsistent.

What I'd really love to know is how this came to be: was Hambly re-reading Dracula one night and got obsessed? Was she pondering Renfield's rather odd motives and decided to craft some for him? Did her publisher suggest doing more with the vampire-prone audience? I don't suppose I'll ever know, but I surely am curious.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Chris Howard on September 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I went into this book not expecting too much to be honest. I knew that it was a spin-off of Dracula focusing on Renfield, of course, and imagined it to be some sort of horrific, crazed lunatic badly done insult to Bram Stoker that I would read anyway just for fun. I couldn't have been more wrong! It was a wonderful book!

Renfield: Slave of Dracula is written with the utmost respect for Bram Stoker's original work. Barbara Hambly did a remarkable job with this book. The book's main focus is, of course, the character of Renfield, resident of Dr. Seward's asylum who consumes life in the form of spiders and flies in the hopes of strengthening his own. Renfield comes to have visions and meetings with Dracula and quite literally becomes a slave of the mind to him calling him "Master."

Hambly retells Bram Stoker's tale through the eye's of Renfield with this book and takes absolutely no liberties with Stoker's original story, which made me so happy! She certainly adds things that "weren't seen" in Stoker's original so that she does have her own novel, but when dealing with his own story, she changes nothing. The story is told through journal's written by Renfield from his cell that often start with an insect count, i.e.: "20 May 7 flies, 3 spiders", letters from Renfield to his wife and child, original passages from Stoker's Dracula, and through a third person narrative.

Hambly has also worked in an incredible story involving the three vampire women that live in Dracula's castle that I loved. I'm not going to talk about it too much because I don't want to give much away, but one of the women by the name of Nomie was actually quite a beautiful character and one that I sympathized with quite a bit.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Patricia Altner on November 6, 2006
Format: Hardcover
For the most part Hambly's novel parallels Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) but she adds some interesting twists of her own. She tells the story through the eyes of Renfield. Stoker portrayed him as a pathetic character who spent his days in an asylum feeding on insects, spiders, and rats when not raving about the coming of his Master.

But in this telling he is an intelligent but delusional man who believes that Dracula, his master, will give him the power he needs to return to his wife Catherine and their daughter Vixie. Renfield constantly writes to Catherine whom he believes lives in hiding from her malicious, controlling mother and sister. Through passionate letters he assures her that soon they will be together again. All of Stoker's characters make an appearance here - John Seward who runs the asylum where Renfield languishes; Jonathan Harker who recently escaped from the dread clutches of Dracula; Abraham Van Helsing, Dr Seward's mentor and the one person who recognizes the cause of Lucy Westenra's illness; Lucy Westenra, Dracula's first victim in England; and Mina Harker, the woman whose courage helps Van Helsing and Lucy's suitors track down the dread Count and destroy him. Hambly is a superb story teller and does an excellent job with this alternate view of the Dracula story.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Akela on October 23, 2006
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I pre-ordered the book as soon as it was announced on the basis of Ms Hambly's previous vampire books. What a disspointment that one was! The only thing "for" the book is the original point of view from the servant's eyes, not the vampire, and that's all. The language is good as should be expected but the characters are barely there, their actions not always following any logic (even twisted one) and the plot is simply weak. The overall impression was boring, boring and boring. If you want to have great pleasure with Hambly's vampire books, read her 2 Don Ysidro ones - they have all that Renfield lacks.
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