Welcome to the land of shadows, where evil is the greatest power, where nightfall marks the birth of terror, where your very soul is at risk. Join me as I investigate worlds filled with black magic and dark souls and encounter the monsters rule these wicked places.
This review does not represent the opinions of the general public. It reflects my personal thoughts and opinions on the book.
That said, on to the review!
The Dracula Tapes offered one possible reinterpretation of Bram Stoker's classic novel. The Holmes-Dracula File established a link between Sherlock Holmes and the infamous Count Dracula. Now author Fred Saberhagen transports his readers to the present, where the ancestors of Dracula's beloved Wilhemina Harker have established themselves in Chicago. Theirs has been an existence of wealth and good fortune...until Kate Southerland turns up dead--and more than dead--and her brother Johnny is kidnapped. Not knowing what else to do, the family matriarch calls up an old friend of the family, one Doctor Emile Corday (and if you read The Holmes-Dracula File, you know who I'm really talking about). He tracks down the kidnappers and murderers, only to discover the unthinkable: these ancestors of Mina Harker have been targeted to strike at him!
Overall I found this book as striking as the other two in the series. I especially like the method of Dracula's summoning: it wasn't the flashy sort of summoning one might expect from Hollywood, but a fairly mundane moment heightened into drama by the expectations of the characters and readers alike. Okay, maybe the cracking mirror and the self-extinguishing candle were flashy, perhaps even ostentatious. However, it is the character's initial disappointment and predisposition to something exciting happening--closely paralleling the reader's thoughts, no doubt--that makes it flashy. Would it have quite so exciting if the author had responded to the usual impulse of having something happen immediately? I don't think so. The pause--a rather lengthy one at that--is the key ingredient to making this moment more than mundane.
I mostly liked everything else. The hypnotism of the sister, the boyfriend's charge to the rescue, the understated punishment of the brother's kidnappers, and the final chase through the park were all interesting and effectively implemented. The only problem I have is the incorporation of Morgan Le Fay into the novel. It doesn't really make any sense. Perhaps it's because the sorceress supposedly lived before Dracula's birth, or perhaps it's because the author didn't provide quite enough backstory to indicate why she bears a grudge against Dracula. Okay, she can wave her hand and change her appearance, but I needed something more to make her stand out as the Morgan Le Fay of Arthurian legend. I think I'd have preferred seeing Countess Elizabeth Bathory (the "blood countess" who bathed in maidens' blood) or Countess Mircalla (a.k.a. Carmilla from Sheridan le Fanu fame), two pretty well established historic/literary figures, mixing it up with Dracula. Other than that one objection, I truly enjoyed the book.
After countless movies and countless books--including those by Fred Saberhagen--Dracula in the role of hero is no longer so confusing, disturbing, or difficult to accept as it once was. Seeing him interacting with ordinary human beings who may have a blood tie to him--however faint--is a real treat. Perhaps this is what Anne Rice was contemplating when she wrote Queen of the Damned.
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