The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s–and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.
It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here …
A sickly child, Bram spent his early days bedridden in his parents’ Dublin home, tended to by his caretaker, a young woman named Ellen Crone. When a string of strange deaths occur in a nearby town, Bram and his sister Matilda detect a pattern of bizarre behavior by Ellen–a mystery that deepens chillingly until Ellen vanishes suddenly from their lives. Years later, Matilda returns from studying in Paris to tell Bram the news that she has seen Ellen–and that the nightmare they’ve thought long ended is only beginning.
A riveting novel of gothic suspense, Dracul reveals not only Dracula’s true origin, but Bram Stoker’s—and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.
Horror After Dark Review
This is the prequel to Dracula and it was inspired by notes and other tidbits Stoker left behind. I wasn’t sure what to expect and went in blind to what the actual storyline was about which, if you ask me, is often the best way to go into a book. That way it’s all a surprise. It could be a pleasant surprise or a dreadful one depending on the book. This one was a bit of both, haha (but dreadful in the best of ways). The Horror Aficionados group read this together. Click here to read everyone’s thoughts.
I’ll tell you a little but not too much about the plot because I think you should all go in blind too and allow the tale to unfold. Dracul tells the story of a young Bram Stoker and his siblings. Set in the 1800’s when Bram is an ill little boy being cared for “Nana” Ellen because his mom is overwhelmed. Nana Ellen was hired without anyone checking into her background. And you know that means something weird is bound to happen, right? Cue the creepy music because the creepy is coming and once it starts it doesn’t let up!
After a strange event occurs, Bram and Matilda start to snooping. And I’m just going to interrupt my review here to say that I adored Bram’s sister Matilda. It would’ve been amazing if the story had been told mostly from her POV because she is feisty and smart and nosey as hell and she asks all the best questions. But it’s told from several POV’s and that’s ok too because it’s a good story. Anyhow, the snooping of course leads to more snooping and the discovery of many odd things. None of which I am going to disclose.
With that said, if you’ve read Dracula or seen any vampire film, you’ll likely have an inkling and some insight into what’s going on here but it’s the telling that is all the fun. It’s descriptive and gruesome and the atmosphere is done just right. It digs right down into the dirt and worms and throws you in there, setting up some truly squirmy scenes that will crawl into your brain and settle in – maybe permanently. I love it when a book is able to do that to me.
I listened to Dracul as an unabridged audiobook with a host of different narrators and instead of distracting me as this sort of thing sometimes does, the six (I think there were six but am too lazy to look it up) narrators helped me quickly place who was speaking and let me know which timeline we were currently in. The tale does skip around in time and I am the type who is easily confused but not so in this case. I fell into this story from the very beginning and only wish I could’ve listened to it all in one sitting but it’s over 16 hours long! Even I can’t hide from life that long no matter how hard I might try because they always find me.
And my favorite quote comes from Matilda (of course!):
“If you won’t dig it up I will.”
Read it. I don’t think you will be disappointed.
I purchased this audio from Audible.com. All thoughts are my own.
About The Author
Dacre Stoker, a Canadian citizen and resident of the U.S., is the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker. He is also the godson of H.G. Dacre Stoker, the commander of the AE2 submarine, whose tactics were instrumental in Gallipoli in World War I.
Dacre, who now calls Aiken, South Carolina home, was a member of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Team, Senior World Championships in 1979 and coach of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Olympic Team, Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Dacre is married to Jenne Stoker and is the father of two children. He is the Executive Director of the Aiken Land Conservancy.
Dracula: The Un-Dead is Dacre’s first novel.
J.D. BARKER is the internationally best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, and winner of the New Apple Medalist Award. His work has been compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. His 4MK Thrillers, The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth to Die, were released in June 2017 and June 2018 respectively. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to Dracula due out in fall 2018. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, daughter, Ember, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.
A note from J.D.
As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows. The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly. I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight. The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced. Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head.
I would never go down to the basement.
I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone. And there were stories, so many stories.
Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book. It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own.
I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people. For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up. I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard. I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives. Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while. To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose. They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand. Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death. Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them. It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good.