Dracula the Un-Dead
When it comes to literary matters, very few things are as infuriating as a badly written sequel. A few years ago, having read a positive review of Dracula the Un-Dead, I ran out and purchased a copy of the book. Dracula has always been a favorite of mine and I was curious to see what a sequel would bring, despite the fact that it was not written by Stoker himself. For some reason I believed that having a family member at the helm (Stoker’s great grand-nephew Dacre Stoker), would ensure that the subject be treated with the respect it deserved. I couldn’t have been more mistaken.
SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT! SPOILER ALERT!
The book begins twenty-five years after the death of Count Dracula and focuses on Quincey Harker, the son of Jonathan and Mina Harker, two characters who figured prominently in the original. Quincey is living in England and is studying law, per his father’s wishes. While he would much rather work in the theater, he can’t bring himself to disobey the man paying the bills so he soldiers on. A series of gruesome murders occur and many London residents believe that it is the work of Jack the Ripper. However, we readers know that vampires are responsible. In the midst of the crime spree, Quincey is drawn to a stage production of Dracula which Bram Stoker himself is staging.
The book goes south very quickly with one absurd premise after another, beginning with Quincey being taken under the wing of a mysterious Romanian actor intent on polishing up Dracula’s image, (I can’t for the life of me think who that could be), to Quincey finding his father’s diary and discovering that his own mother had willingly engaged in an affair with Dracula. When confronted by her son, she reflects on their affair with fondness. No self-respecting Dracula fan could imagine anything more damaging to the horrific and well-deserved reputation of the Count. But the ultimate insult comes in the final chapter which takes place in April, 1912, as Quincey boards an ocean liner from Southampton sailing for America. Hmmm, that’s a rather curious date and location. Care to take a guess which ship he’s sailing on or what those large coffin-shaped boxes in the hull contain?
Where the original was groundbreaking and continues to send chills down the spines of modern day readers, Dracula the Un-Dead relies instead on clichés and cheap gimmicks. Readers will spot these devices faster than the arrival of mist and fog which seem to appear with the flip of a switch whenever a murder is about to be committed. Perhaps it was the affection that I have for Bram Stoker’s original that made Dracula the Un-Dead such a bust. Whatever the reason, it remains a book that I would never recommend – even to my worst enemy.