Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Dracula's Guest - Bram Stoker

I had never heard of this book before, but when I ran across it and saw who the author was, I snatched it up and started reading. What we have here is a series of short stories published by Mrs. Stoker after the passing of her husband. The stories range from the disturbing supernatural tale of “The Judge” to the vampiric title tale of “Dracula’s Guest” some versions of this book include the “Lair of the White Worm” which although it is not one of my favorite of Mr. Stoker’s Cannon, it is still a very creepy and disturbing novella.

This is a VERY short read, and can be completed in a day without trouble. As with all short story collections some will be more to your taste than others. None really packed the punch of “Dracula” but then few tales do. My personal favorites were “Dracula’s Guest” in which a British fellow fails to head the warning of the locals and ventures into a hellish evening of wolves and the supernatural… and we are left with the feeling that his next venture may prove even worse for him.

“The Judge” was also interesting… though I really would have liked for there to be more to this story. A learned man takes up residence in the local haunted mansion to get some peace and quite while studying. He gets more than he bargained for in the end. This was a very interesting and dark tale with “Twilight Zone” or “Tales from the Crypt” written all over it. It is very cinematic in tone and could have been much longer.

In all there are tales of vengeance, redemption, the supernatural, pacts with the Devil, angry black cats, beggars run amok, murderers, insanity… if you love the short stories of Edgar Allen Poe, then you really need to pick up this collection. If you have read and re-read Dracula and can’t get enough, then pick up this book… it’s hard to find (my copy came from a used bookstore and it looked like a dog had gone to town on the cover) but it is well worth the hunt.


Anonymous said...

As you might guess, unlike your aptitude, I don’t easily take in horrors and thrillers. But having had a glance over your editorial reviews, I wonder if you’re planning to review Dracula and any of Poe’s. And I’d be much glad if you have any plan on those, and also I’d like to know as well your view on what made vampires thrive in modern culture. And what made people turn to horrors and thrillers or dark story; have you thought about it seriously? For me too depressive and unpleasant to appreciate in it the literary substance. Never mind my personal dislike over that genre. Perhaps I might be too immature to grow into it like others do.

I always got mad at Poe, achingly mad at his mishandling of literary brilliance, especially awfully sad seeing short-lived success that worked like slow poison in his life which ruined the young promising talent to a psychopathic wanderer in depression-led alcoholic doom. I guess I like him in some way, he is anyway a romantic dreamer who found the world inside of horrific shade. Brilliant talent. And he wasted, drank it away, suffering in endless loss.

Ravenskya said...

I read Dracula long ago, it is one of my favorites, and I am sure that I will review it when I re-read it. Poe... well, he's not my favorite. People love him but I could never really get into his stories.

As far as vampires go, they have always been patterned after whatever the fear of the ages was. Back in the 1800's they symbolized STD's, and illness. The dashing young vampire comes in the night and sweeps the fair virgin off her feet, only to leave her sickened, weaker, and tainted. The same with the beautiful vampiress who seductively lures men in to her arms with her sex, only to drain them of their life force much the same as syphillis and the other diseases of the time. Then over the ages vampires have changed, the new breed of vampire is not really to my taste, but it plays off of our more modern day fears of loss of control, terrorism, and crime... many of the current vampires function more as serial killers, or religious leaders than the old school envisioning of them.

Werewolves on the other hand symbolize our primal side, and the fear of the loss of control.

But I agree with you, much of the horror, particularly the newer stuff is garbage. Much like horror movies, they have switched from attempting to evoke a primitive fear that stays with you long after the book is closed or the movie is turned off, and now focus on gore and sex. I live for the horror novels that have me questioning the choice to turn out my light before I go to bed, or the ones that send prickles up my spine as I walk my dogs on a misty night. Those are the tales that stay with you, and change you... make you a little more cautious and make you thankful for what you have.