Booking Through Thursday: Rewrite


On Thursday, October 14th, Booking through Thursday asked:

If you could rewrite the ending of any book, which book would it be? And how would you change it?

Even though I have a laptop and a netbook and an iPhone and a Kindle already, I spent a good part of last night surfing laptop deals lusting over the newer tech I don’t have. I say this because it’s the reason I’m answering “Booking through Thursday” on Friday morning at eleven.

As to rewriting the ends of novels: Sometimes I wish Jane had not returned to Rochester at the end of Jane Eyre, because I don’t think their relationship was terribly healthy. I maintain that J.K. Rowling’s final chapter of the Harry Potter saga, in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was a cop-out meant to appease fan-girl shippers. (I also maintain that Snape would have known how to avoid death by snakebite, and in MY world he’s alive, but that’s not the actual ending, just the precursor to it.) I don’t believe that most people marry their high school sweethearts, and I think Hermione would have quickly outgrown Ron – or, as often happens – Ron would have embraced adulthood and grown beyond Hermione – he’s the more well-rounded of the two.

It is Dracula, however, that has an ending which really irritates me, although it didn’t do so until I read Fred Saberhagen’s series of post-novel pastiche/sequels, beginning with The Dracula Tapes. Why does it it annoy me? Read the passage again:

As I looked, the eyes saw the sinking sun, and the look of hate in them turned to triumph.

But, on the instant, came the sweet and flash of Jonathan’s great knife. I shrieked as I saw it shear through the throat. Whilst at the same moment Mr. Morris’s bowie knife plunged into the heart.

It was like a miracle, but before our very eyes, almost in the drawing of a breath, the whole body crumbled into dust and passed from our sight.

If you read it carefully, you note three things:

1) Dracula’s throat was sliced, but he wasn’t beheaded.
2) His heart was pierced by another knife – NOT a wooden stake.
3) He crumbled into dust.

A casual reader would dismiss this as a death scene, except that earlier in the novel when listing Dracula’s powers, Stoker tells us that he can crumble into elemental dust. I maintain, therefore, that the ending of Dracula is flawed because Stoker did not follow the rules of his own world – rules he created. Either the scene needs to make it explicit that the Count’s head was separated from his body, OR, Stoker was leaving it open for a sequel, and I just can’t credit Stoker with that much forethought.

So, yes, I would rewrite Dracula.

Review: Dracula: the Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

Dracula: the Un-Dead
Dracula: the Un-Dead
by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt
Get it at Amazon >>

It’s October, and even though the temperature is bouncing between hot and cool in much the same fashion as the ball on a ping pong table, there is still a bite to the air, and something indefinable that always comes as Halloween draws nearer. It’s an appropriate time, then, to revisit a classic horror tale. It’s an even better time to experience such a tale in a new way, which is what I did over the weekend, as I immersed myself in Dracula: the Un-Dead, the official unofficial sequel to Bram Stoker’s original novel.

Co-authors Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt do an excellent job of weaving their tale with Bram’s original, and with blending familiar characters with new ones. In this novel, however, Dracula isn’t the villain the original Stoker (Dacre’s great-granduncle) portrayed him to be – though, in all truth – neither is he sweetness and light. Mina Harker (nee Murray) is also painted with a slightly different brush. In this version of the story, which picks up 25 years after the Transylvanian Count’s apparent demise, she and old Vlad consummated their relationship in more ways than just the drinking of blood, and young Quincey Harker is not Jonathon’s son, but his.

Mother and son aren’t exactly the best of friends, however, especially since the younger Harker wants to pursue a career on the stage, and not in Jonathon’s failing law firm, while Mom doesn’t seem to be aging the way a respectable woman should. This latter is also a bone of contention between Mina and her husband.

It’s not just the Harkers who figure into this sequel, however. We see Seward, Holmwood and Van Helsing all dealing in completely different ways with the aftermath of their earlier adventure.

New characters enrich the tale in this novel. Notable among them is Inspector Cotford, a Lestrade-like police detective who is working the Dracula case while also trying to solve the mostly-cold case of Jack the Ripper. His associates are given names that vampire fans of the modern era will find either amusing or jarring, perhaps both. One is Price, but I’ll not reveal the others. Suffice to say that in-jokes abound.

All in all, Dracula: the Un-Dead was both satisfying and entertaining.

Even better, Stoker and Holt have left open the possibility of another sequel.