I am a J.D. Barker fan, having LOVED both The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth to Die. When I saw that he was writing a prequel to Dracula, titled Dracul, with Bram Stoker’s Great-Grandnephew Dacre Stoker, I was ecstatic. I grew up on horror movies and classic horror novels, and have always loved a good vampire book. I flipped my lid when Barker’s people sent me an advanced copy to read, and I mean this quite literally. There was cussing and a lot of jumping up and down! I am a lucky, blessed girl folks.
Dracul is based around the knowledge that Bram Stoker originally tried to publish Dracula with a line stating that the story was true. Apparently the tale originally had over 100 pages BEFORE the story that we’ve all come to know so well. Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker went through Bram’s notes, old copies and manuscripts that were found, etc…and compiled a prequel filled with some history and a whole lot of macabre embellishment and backstory.
Starting with Bram as a sickly child, and a Nanny who is perplexingly beautiful and mysterious, we eventually find him healed by strange circumstances one evening. The events of that night are shrouded in a mystery surrounding his Nanny Ellen, who disappears afterwards. Intercut with the childhood bits, we find Bram as an adult, stuck in a tower with evil literally beating on his door…and him surrounded by crosses and mirrors, with a mysterious dark haired man outside toying with him. We get the impression he may not make it til daylight. The story then bounces to Bram and his siblings as adults, and sister Matilda claims she’s seen Nanny Ellen, and she’s not aged a day. You know where the story is going, but you’re not quite sure how it’s going to get there!
I found the entire book fascinating! It is written very much in keeping with the original, or my recollection of it. I have to admit it’s been quite a few years since I’ve read Dracula. But the story is very…traditional? I want to say old fashioned, but to me that has a more negative connotation than I’m going for. It FEELS like the story that should’ve come before Dracula. It doesn’t feel like a contemporary novel written years and years after the original. For that alone, I’d give it five stars.
But there were some truly creepy scenes in this novel. I wouldn’t say it was scary, but then my definition of scary and yours might be two different things. But creepy as all get out? Absolutely. The morgue scene alone will give me the heebie jeebies for as long as I can conjure it up in my mind…as in, I kept reading past it before I went to bed because that was NOT the last thing I wanted to be thinking about before I closed my eyes at night!
Dracul is filled with classic vampires doing the usual vampire things. There’s mist and big ole wolves. Capes and coaches. Stakes and coffins. Crosses and foggy bogs. And it is the PERFECT read for October! Not too gruesome or gory, more intriguing and creepy.
So, if you’re a fan of vampires, dracula, old horror, etc…this should be a must read. I loved everything about it, from the font to the spine decor. Everyone in my house plans to read it now that I’m finished. I think it’s going to go on a plane with my husband tomorrow! LOVED…IT! Big thanks again to J.D. Barker and Putnam/Penguin Books for sending me a copy. Giant raving Barker fan girl, y’all. He’d better be hard at work on the next 4MK book now…
Are you a fan of creepy/horror/vampire books? Let me know in the comments.