Source: Unrequested review copy from publisher.
Back Cover Description:
Family secrets, unfinished business, and an evil unlike any the world has known.
Twenty-five years have passed since the band of heroes destroyed Dracula at his castle in Transylvania. Since then, Jonathan and Mina Harker have raised their son Quincey into a fine, if at times naive, young man, even while their once happy marriage disintegrated. Dr. Seward, the brilliant physician, is plagued by drug abuse and mania. Arthur Holmwood, the brave and dashing fiance to Lucy, is now full of anger and regret. And Van Helsing, leader of the brave band, is a sickly old man.
When Quincey leaves law school to pursue his dream of acting, he stumbles upon a troubled production of the play Dracula. This play, with its oddly familiar characters and directed by one Bram Stoker, plunges the young man into the world of his parents' terrible secrets, but before he can confront them he meets evil that rocks him to his core. One by one, the band of heroes that defeated Dracula is being hunted down. Could it be that Dracula somehow survived and is seeking revenge all these years later? Or is another far more sinister villain at work who will put anyone associated with Dracula, including Quincey, in grave danger?
Dracula The Un-Dead is a historical horror novel set in 1912 in France and England. It is a "sequel" to the original Dracula novel written by Bram Stoker. Overall, I enjoyed this fast-paced novel and thought it well-written. The world-building was excellent with historical details that brought the novel alive in my imagination.
If you don't know anything about the original Dracula, a short summary of what happened in that book is given in the form of a letter at the beginning of this one. There were notes from the authors at the back describing where and why they decided to depart from the way things were in the original story. I've never read the original Dracula and never watched the movies, but fans of the original book seem to be reacting badly to the changes made.
If you loved the 'band of heroes' from the first book, then I can see why you wouldn't like this novel. The heroes weren't portrayed very nicely (Seward was a morphine addict, Jack was an alcoholic and frequented prostitutes, Mina was sexual unsatisfiable and loved Dracula, Arthur wanted to die, etc.), and they don't have happy fates in this novel.
I never really liked the main characters enough to bond with them or care if they died, which decreased the tension a little. I did think they were interesting and complex characters, though, and I understood the authors were trying to show the toll their adventure had taken on them.
Semi-spoiler paragraph: At the beginning, it was stated that all vampires are evil. Near the end, however, several vampires stated they weren't really evil--that God, not the devil, created vampires, and that each vampire chose whether to be good or evil. Dracula thinks he's a totally misunderstood good guy. I'm not certain if the reader was supposed to trust this "revelation," especially since these characters were seeking to justify their evil actions.
There was slightly explicit sex in the book (including adultery, rape and lesbian sex). The violence and gore were much more explicit and there was a lot of it. God was treated as a real being (for the most part), though believing in him didn't seem to do anyone any good. There was a minor amount of bad language. Overall, I think anyone who hasn't read the original, who likes modern vampire novels, and who doesn't mind gore will probably enjoy this one.
If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.
Excerpt from Chapter One
Oceans of Love, Lucy.
The inscription was the only thing Dr. Jack Seward could focus on as he felt the darkness overtake him. In the darkness was peace, with no harsh light to illuminate the tattered remains of his life. For years, he had devoted himself to fighting back the darkness. Now he simply embraced it.
Only at night could Seward find peace with the memory of Lucy. In his dreams, he still felt her warm embrace. For a fleeting moment, he could go back to London, to a happier era, when he found meaning through his place in the world and his research. This was the life he had wished to share with Lucy.
The early morning din of milk wagons, fishmongers' carts, and other merchant vehicles rattling hurriedly across the cobblestone streets of Paris intruded on Seward's dream and thrust him back into the harsh present. Seward forced his eyes open. They stung worse than fresh iodine on an open wound. As the cracked ceiling of the stale Parisian flophouse room he had been renting came into focus, he reflected on how much his life had changed. It saddened him to see all the muscle tone he had lost. His bicep sagged, resembling one of those hand-sewn muslin tea bags after it had just been removed from a teapot. The veins on his arm were like rivers on a tattered map. He was a shadow of his former self.