With the slew of vampires cropping up in fiction over the past while, it's a pleasant change to return to a story that has all the hallmarks of the classic that helped spawn the genre. Even better that it's Bram Stoker's great-grandnephew, Dacre Stoker, who, informed with access to primary source materials, has guided the direction that Dracul has taken.
The novel starts with a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker who's in a spot of bother in a tower of a ruined abbey, and to a degree it might seem somewhat contrived for someone who's in a tight spot having the wherewithal to scribble down the events that have led up to his current predicament, the story is quite cleverly put together. Much like Dracula, it's made up of letters and journal entries, jumping between past and present to delve deeper into the story that has been a staple of horror for more than a century.
Blending elements of mystery with horror, our protagonists – Bram and his siblings, along with a handful of accomplices – find themselves on an unexpected quest that sees them make some unlikely allies. I can't say any more for fear of spoilers, but I was soon invested in how the story plays out.
In tone and styling, Dracul is very much the epitome of a Gothic novel, bursting at the seams with ruinous abbeys and bloodthirsty monsters. The supernatural elements creep in gradually, and while very little terrifies me these days, I appreciated the twists and loops this story follows before it hurtles towards its conclusion. If you're familiar with the original text of Bram Stoker's Dracula, then Dracul will offer a worthy deeper dive into the legend that is sure to please fans.