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
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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.

The Rest Falls Away

by Colleen Gleason

I’m not a huge fan of the Regency period, and especially not a fan of Regency romances. All those demure teas and heaving bosoms tend to cause a lot of eye-rolling around here. When an author takes the time to visit my blog, however, and pitch her own work, without being at all arrogant, but just being another blogger, I take note. Colleen Gleason left a comment here a few weeks back, and even though the period her Gardella Vampire Hunter series is set in is not my favorite, I’m a sucker for bloodsuckers being offed by spunky heroines, so HAD to check out her work.

The Rest Falls Away introduces us to Victoria Gardella Grantworth, debutante (though a little older than the other young women coming out that year, due to family issues), and the latest to be called to the family tradition of vampire hunting. In this – being chosen rather than doing the choosing – she is not unlike the more modern Buffy, whom the author herself notes is an influence.

What follows, once Victoria takes up her stake and commits to her destiny, is not bodice ripping (a little slow unbuttoning, perhaps…) or bosom heaving, but a realistic presentation of what a female action hero would have had to deal with if living in such a time. Skirts not meant for running and fighting, pants not acceptable on the female form, sleeves meant to be frothy rather than fitted…fashion alone is a major issue, and not just in terms of where one can hide a stake.

There is, of course, requisite romance with Phillip, the Marquess of Rockley, and – as always happens when one of the characters is a hero – romance is not a reward as much as yet another thing to be balanced and protected, or pushed aside when a life must be saved.

Gleason’s characters all ring true, even those like Sebastian the owner of the vamp-friendly bar who are a bit over the top, and her plot moves at a comfortable pace. Maybe I was inspired in part by the season – I’m writing this review having just given the last of my candy to a stray trick-or-treater, after all – but not only could I not put this book down, I’m already a third of the way through the sequel.

You’ll note Ms. Gleason’s presence in my blogroll. You’d do well to include her works on your shelves.


I spent this morning cleaning my coffee maker, but I probably should have spent it researching drug treatment centers instead, because after my mini-marathon of Dracula: the Series on Friday, I also finally managed to catch an episode of the new vampire detective show Moonlight which is brought to you, in part, by Ron Koslow who was also involved in one of my favorite 1980’s television shows, Beauty and the Beast.

Friends who managed to see the pilot of Moonlight told me that it was very much an Angel ripoff. I disagree. If anything, it traces more of its roots back to Forever Knight than Angel ever did, and that’s fine, because what makes Joss Whedon’s work stand out is that it is so fresh and difference. It also has more than a passing resemblance to Blood Ties which returns this week.

In any case, Moonlight features Australian actor Alex O’Loughlin as vampire private investigator Mick St. John, who is relatively young in vampire terms, as he was still mortal as recently as 1950. He’s got a torch for a blonde reporter, who is apparently in a stable relationship with someone in the district attorney’s office, so there’s they typical vampire-mortal attraction dance going on, and of course, they fight crime.

It seems like a show still finding its feet, and I’ve read that there were major casting changes at the last minute, and that David Greenwalt who was involved in the show’s creation, walked away from it over the summer, so I’m hoping it will last long enough to have a chance of growing beyond it’s very earnest first couple episodes, and maybe offer a little bit more grit.

My verdict: Worth catching, but don’t cancel plans for it.