cover image Dracul


Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker. Putnam, $27 (512p) ISBN 978-0-7352-1934-2

Promoted as a prequel to Dracula, this novel is a melodramatized family history that proposes author Bram Stoker and his siblings confronted an undead nemesis early in their lives. Set for the most part in Ireland and told through a mix of straightforward narrative, personal letters, and journal and diary entries spanning the second half of the 19th century, it relates how a sickly young Bram was brought back from death’s doorstep by the bite of his nursemaid, the mysterious Ellen Crone. Years after Ellen’s abrupt disappearance from their lives, Bram, his sister Matilda, and his brother Thornley are drawn into a web of intrigues when they discover that Ellen is a Dearg-Due, a bloodsucking being of Irish folklore who is under the thumb of a more sinister vampire master. Although the authors evoke particulars of Bram Stoker’s Victorian vampire classic, their portrayal of Ellen as a sympathetic victim is decidedly modern. In an author’s note, Stoker, the great-grandnephew of Bram, explores gaps in the fossil record of Dracula’s genesis to explain the direction his own Dracula-infused collaboration took. Bram Stoker fans and scholars will find this a satisfying exploration of his legacy. Agent: Kristin Nelson, Nelson Literary. (Oct.)