Dracula The Un-Dead Review
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Years ago, during college, I (like many other college students of the time, I suppose) went through a gothic phase. For some, that meant dressing in all black and listened to dark, angry music. For studious English majors like me, however, it meant spending the summer reading books like Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula (along with the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe). Since I still have fond memories of that eerie summer, I simply couldn’t resist the pull of Dracula The Un-Dead, the “official” sequel to Stoker’s classic novel—especially since it was co-authored by one of Stoker’s direct descendants.

After opening with a short recap of the original novel (in the form of a letter from Mina Harker to her son, Quincey—to be opened in the case of her death), Dracula the Un-Dead picks up the story 25 years after the dark and haunting events that changed the lives of the Harkers and their friends forever.

Now half-crazed and addicted to morphine, Dr. Seward has become obsessed with hunting a new evil: Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a powerful vampire who’s far more blood-thirsty than Dracula ever was. When he attempts to stop her, though, he’s killed instead.

But Seward’s death is only the beginning. And as the evil returns to England, Mina fears even more for her son’s life. She and Jonathan have tried to protect Quincey, who knows nothing of the horrors in their past. A stubborn young man and an aspiring actor, he’s completely unprepared for the battle that awaits him.

Dracula The Un-Dead was supposedly written based on Stoker’s original notes—yet the authors took more than their share of liberties, changing dates, facts…even whole themes. Though the original story was supposed to have taken place in 1893, Stoker and Holt decided, instead, to claim that it was actually 1888—in order to make it coincide with Jack the Ripper’s killing spree in London. That allows the authors to make some fancy (but pointless) historical connections, while also bringing in the completely unnecessary character of Inspector Cotford, a tough old detective who was disgraced by the Ripper murders (and who’s still trying to solve the case).

Meanwhile, Dracula may or may not be really dead—and he may or may not have been a good guy. And, all these years later, an immortal Mina is still secretly in love with him—a fact that turned Jonathan into an angry, bitter drunk.

This certainly isn’t the Dracula that I so fondly remember. Instead of staying faithful to the story, the characters, and the style of the original, Stoker and Holt have turned the sequel into a long and baffling mess. Though they attempt to fill the story with suspense and surprises (most of which aren’t all that surprising), the story’s twists and turns will only succeed in confusing readers even more.

Perhaps the novel’s greatest offense, however, is that it simply tries too hard to be clever. Stoker and Holt go out of their way to force the story’s historical context—including a run-in with the first man to fly across the English Channel, repeated references to “new-fangled” inventions, and, of course, that whole business of The Ripper. The story concludes with one final historical zinger, too—one that’s just too shameless for words.

As if that weren’t enough, the story also includes Bram Stoker himself as one of the characters—a down-on-his-luck theater owner who’s trying to produce his novel, Dracula, for the stage, in a last-ditch attempt to make something of himself. Again, it’s all too shameless.

Instead of dark and haunting, Dracula The Un-Dead is cheap and sensationalized, and it feels like little more than an attempt to capitalize on the recent vampire craze. Fans of Bram Stoker’s Dracula will be disturbed and disappointed—and curious Twilight fans (even goth college kids) will quickly lose interest.

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