Finally after a hundred-plus years there is another Dracula book, a sequel; Dracula: The Un-Dead. (Dutton Books, $26.95 USD) You might be wondering how this is significant as there have been many Dracula books and even more vampire books, a subgenre all of its own. Well this one is different, written supposedly by Bram Stoker’s great grandnephew, Dacre Stoker. In the family tree end of things this is Bram’s brother’s son’s son’s son.
Bram had a fair number of siblings (6) and it doesn’t seem that all of them wrote, nor any of them achieved his notoriety. But there is this penchant in fiction these days for the descendants of great writers to suddenly lift the pen and write a sequel to a story, as if the blood that ran in the veins of a great writer has been distilled down the decades to make more creative geniuses. If this were indeed the case, it would be a surprise that anyone took up any other profession but the successful careers of their parents: lawyers begetting lawyers, painters begetting painters, murderers begetting murderers.
But of course we have individualism and of course there is no guarantee that a relative will have the same talent as their ancestor. Yet we’ve seen sequels to Dune written by Brian Herbert, to Lord of the Rings by a Tolkien relative, to a few other great names with relatives getting involved. And sometimes there have been sequels but not by a writer’s descendants but someone else given free rein in the established territory (the sequel to Gone With the Wind for example). Yet the publishing world loves its marketing gimmicks as much as any big business. And maybe it helps…for selling.
However, I’ve not read the book yet because it’s was launched Oct. 13, a nice spooky date, coinciding with the Hallowe’en month and the unlucky number of 13. When you look at the cover you see that it is written by Dacre Stoker (large letters) and Ian Holt (smaller font). Check out the bios for Stoker and Holt, you will see that Stoker is a past world class athlete and executive director of the Aiken Land Conservancy, a Canadian citizen living in the US. Holt, on the other hand is a writer, who (surprise surprise) has written previous Dracula based novels and screenplays. Just like the books that William Shatner has supposedly written it will be a case of maybe Stoker supplied a few ideas and Holt did the writing, knowing he’d have the Stoker name to pull in the sales. A sweet deal all in all.
From the website’s own pages http://www.draculatheundead.com/index.htm:
Dracula The Un-Dead is a bone-chilling sequel based on Bram Stoker’s own handwritten notes for characters and plot threads excised from the original edition. Written with the blessing and cooperation of Stoker family members, Dracula The Un-Deadbegins in 1912, twenty-five years after Dracula “crumbled into dust.” Van Helsing’s protégé, Dr. Jack Seward, is now a disgraced morphine addict obsessed with stamping out evil across Europe. Meanwhile, an unknowing Quincey Harker, the grown son of Jonathan and Mina, leaves law school for the London stage, only to stumble upon the troubled production of “Dracula,” directed and produced by Bram Stoker himself.
The play plunges Quincey into the world of his parents’ terrible secrets, but before he can confront them he experiences evil in a way he had never imagined. One by one, the band of heroes that defeated Dracula a quarter-century ago is being hunted down. Could it be that Dracula somehow survived their attack and is seeking revenge? Or is their another force at work whose relentless purpose is to destroy anything and anyone associated with Dracula?
Stoker’s characters had Victorian sensibilities and not so shadowy personalities as this sequel seems to indicate. But like all those comics with the dead superheroes that somehow get resurrected, perhaps Dracula is back. Or maybe not. I won’t be rushing out to read this and it will be up to each person to make their own decision as to how good a Dracula story it is. I just don’t place any faith in a descendant carrying the torch of former writing glory even if supposedly this is from some notes of Stoker’s. Of course, those notes could be as simple as: Dracula=evil, Harker=just and good, Mina=corrupted by evil. I’d love to see what these notes were and having those published in a book could be far more entertaining.
And of course, it’s no surprise this book is being looked at to make a movie. In fact, it started as a screenplay idea and then supposedly Dacre said it was best to start as a novel. More revenues no doubt. As to what Stoker thought of himself as a character in a Dracula sequel and whether or not he’ll be rolling in his grave? Well, we’ll just have to sit beside the mausoleum where his ashes are and keep the garlic away to find out.