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Dracula: The Un-Dead Hardcover – Deckle Edge, October 13, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
In this sequel to Bram Stoker's Dracula, his great-grandnephew offers one of the rowdiest revisionist treatments of the most influential vampire novel ever written. In 1912, as Stoker labors to adapt Dracula for the stage, its characters are dying gruesomely all over London. It turns out they are as real as Stoker himself, who learned their secret story on the sly and took creative liberties when turning it into his popular penny dreadful. Dracula's true story involves the passing of his blood line through Mina Harker to her son; a malignant Dr. Van Helsing, who Scotland Yard suspects had a hand in the murders attributed to Jack the Ripper; and the exploits of a 16th-century vampire countess, Dracula's former lover, who cuts a bloody swath through London seeking the survivors of Dracula's last stand in Transylvania. Energetically paced and packed with outrageously entertaining action, this supernatural thriller is a well-needed shot of fresh blood for the Dracula mythos. (Oct.)
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"Energetically paced and packed with outrageously entertaining action, this supernatural thriller is a well-needed shot of fresh blood for the Dracula mythos."
"The authors (Stoker is a descendant of Bram, and Holt is a noted Dracula historian) skillfully explore the nature of evil while weaving together several complex plotlines throughout this mesmerizing story. Readers who enjoy dark fantasy with fast-paced action will plow through this book, not wanting to stop."
Who could resist sinking their teeth into a sequel by a writer with Stoker blood in his veins?”
—Carol Memmott, USA Today Critics’ Picks
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And I wouldn't care if it was a faithful sequel. Instead, this book consists of 450 pages of pissing on the original. Every chance he can, Holt takes the events of the original "Dracula" and says they never happened. Honestly, would Bram Stoker authorize a sequel that refuted almost every detail he wrote? Not only does this book trash the events in "Dracula", but it has no respect for the characters and their personalities. Worst of all, Holt takes the character of Dracula and tries to make him a hero! Bram Stoker actually implied that Dracula was not just a vampire, but the ANTI-CHRIST!
On the good side, the writing itself is not bad. The book moves at a fast pace and there a few clever ideas. The choice of the villainess, while obvious, was a good one.
I'd like to see Holt write a vampire book of his own using original characters he created. Because if you don't understand someone else's characters you should leave them alone.
However, I think the greatest sin that Holt & Stoker commit is, as mentioned above, they essentially craft a story that turns the original on its head (who knew Dracula was an agent of good working in the service of God?) and takes arguably the greatest evil villian in all of fiction and tells us he was really a good guy. Not to mention the band of heroes from the original weren't really heroes at all. Just Disgraceful.
As if this is not all bad enough, we get twenty pages at the end of the book where the authors try and justify what they wrote. It reads like a pre-emtive strike against what they knew was coming from the critics and fans. Again, there are a lot of problems here but most annoying is the pages where they try to explain how they can reconcile vampire myths and powers with scientific explanations. Like someone trying to explain the physics behind how Superman can fly. How about this? The supernatural doesn't need scientific explanation. Dracula can turn into fog because it's a supernatural act, not mind control or whatever nonsense the authors try to explain. Do the authors really need to have it explained to them what makes horror scary?
OK. So why two stars instead of one? Two reasons. I can't take away that it is well enough written that it moves quickly and the prose/narrative is good. If they put out another horror novel, perhaps an original premise, I would certainly read it. (I suspect Holt is the primary writer, Stoker probably there to sell books).
Second, the myth of Dracula has been handled hundreds of ways by hundreds of creators and that's what makes it fun I guess. If they hadn't tried to give this book extra legitimacy by marketing it as a sequel and attaching the Stoker name to it, it could have been just another fanciful imagining of the Dracula myth.
As it is, this is no sequel. Just another bad Dracula story made all the worse by showing no respect to the original.
To be perfectly frank, this novel was the worst novel I have EVER read. From first page to last, I had the overwhelming feeling that the authors never bothered to actually read the canonical work, and merely referenced movie adaptations for how the story was supposed to go.
They also took horrific leaps and bounds with their suppositions, and every time they took it to a place that I couldn't follow. For example (spoiler alert): while it is one thing to suppose that Mina and Dracula had sex (in the canon, she is seen basically performing oral sex on him) it is another thing entirely to state that Dracula took her virginity. She was a married woman. Granted, Jonathan had been ill for the first part of their marriage, but there is no reason to believe that he wasn't able to consummate their marriage. Several research papers have gone into this very subject and all agree that Mina was not a virgin when Dracula came to her, and this was perhaps one of the reasons that she was ultimately able to help defeat him.
After reading the novel, I wanted to know more about the authors, and wasn't at all surprised to learn that Ian Holt was a screenwriter - as I stated before, it seemed as though the entire novel was based off of movies and not the original book. If that was the case (as I'm sure it is) how can we truly call this book a sequel?
It reads like more of an alternate universe sort of fanfiction, if we're going to be perfectly honest. And a bad one at that.
While I won't tell you that you shouldn't read this book, review reader, I will caution you. This book is not at all what it claims to be. The only reason I'm giving this a one-star review is I can't give it a 0.