Having famous relatives can be a great thing, but it can also be the curse of a lifetime. In 2002, Thomas Steinbeck wrote
Down to a Soundless Sea, and while it was a well-written book, when compared to the astounding legacy of father John, it appeared weak and hollow. Mark Vonnegut, Kurt's son, wrote
The Eden Express: A Memoir of Insanity, and though revealing, it bore little similarity to the wonderful words written by his father. And the list goes on.
So when Dacre Stoker set out to write a book about Dracula, he already had a huge mountain to climb. The great-grand nephew of Bram Stoker, the writer of the original
Dracula, Dacre did receive the blessing of the Stoker family to write this book,
but he was also looking at an entire generation of readers who had devoured the original book and weren't likely to suffer
Dracula imitators lightly.
All that being said, this is an engaging book. It picks up the tale of the surviving characters
of Bram's Dracula in 1912, 25 years following the death of the vampire. Everybody is here, from Jonathan and Mina Harker to Dr. Seward to a host of new characters including Jack the Ripper himself.
The pacing is unfortunately just a bit too sluggish. The last 100 pages or so are filled with the type of vampiric batlles and bloodlust that you'd expect from this type of tale,
but the first chapters run a trifle slow in setting up events and new characters.
The author is to be commended for tackling such an enormously challenging project. Certainly he shares a last name with the world's greatest writer of vampire tales, but maybe he'd really be challenged by writing about something other than the supernatural.