Friday, August 21, 2009
DRACULA: THE UN-DEAD KIRKUS REVIEW
Stoker, Dacre & Ian Holt DRACULA: The Un-Dead Bram’s great-grandnephew teams up with Dracula buff Holt to reclaim vampire lit from the unholy, unlettered legions churning out today’s fang-and-cloak stuff. This big, blood-filled kitchen sink of a debut boasts a vast cast of characters: Bram Stoker himself, as well as his nefarious Count, Jack the Ripper, Jonathan Harker, Dr. Van Helsing, Oscar Wilde, “blood Countess” Elizabeth Bathory, a mysterious Eastern European actor and a whole bunch of extremely hot (but also extremely cold, being dead and all) vampire chicks of uncertain gender preference. Bathory is definitely the heavy of the story, and it seems she’s spoiling to outdo the number of grisly murders she is said to have committed in life, aided by a coterie of spidery bloodsucking assistants. As befits a multigenerational saga that springs from a book that had few survivors, some familiar characters are on the other side of the live/dead line, and some—well, some are indeed in the undead camp. There’s lots of good old-fashioned polymorphously perverse degenerate romping (“Every orifice in her body became his plaything”). Stoker and Holt are careful not to go too far afield from the conventions of the original; Van Helsing, for instance, comes armed with “crosses, wafers, holy water, a wooden stake, a Bowie knife, and a crossbow armed and ready to fire,” rather than some postmodern substitute for all that good wood and metal. Yet this competently (but no more than competently) written sequel—endorsed by the Stoker family, the publisher assures—has plenty of contemporary twists, including a weird Darth Vaderish turn at the end that some Bram-faithful readers may find magnificently silly. Flies and spiders, master! Big, messy, lots of fun—and not Stephenie Meyer.