Dracula’s Child

J. S. Barnes

Rating: 3 out of 5.

It’s been more than a decade since the events of Bram Stoker’s original novel, which culminated in the true death of Dracula at the hands of Mina Harker and her champions. Life has carried on, as life tends to do. Mina and Jonathan’s little family has grown, and they now have a son, named after the redoubtable American, Quincey Morris, who died in their quest to kill the vampire. Their little group comes together again to celebrate young Quincey’s birthday, and this is where tragedy strikes –  Van Helsing falls suddenly ill, but not before he delivers a startling warning. 

In London, the mysterious Council of Athelstan begins to pluck the strings of the press and the British government. On the Continent, an ageing actor meets a fellow Englishman with an irresistible allure. In Roumania, an old adversary is beginning to stir. Could it possibly be that the Harkers and their friends weren’t as successful in defeating Dracula as they had believed?

You’ve got to be pretty brave to attempt to write a sequel to one of the most famous horror stories of all time. Nevertheless, it’s a feat that Barnes almost pulled off. The tone and epistolary method of writing are similar, and it’s evident that the author has put the hours in when it comes to the research.  I think reception is going to vary depending on whether the reader is coming at this book as a purist or whether most of the reader’s Dracula knowledge comes more from film and TV rather than the original novel.

If I was one of the latter, then I’d probably give Dracula’s Child a four-star rating. While slow at times, and positively dragging on at least one occasion, the story builds with the same sense of menace and dark purpose as the original, and the addition of the sinister Council of Athelstan fits perfectly.

Unfortunately, I’m one of those people who sits through a film pointing out all the things they’ve got wrong and preaching the gospel of The Book Was Better, and Dracula is one of my favourite novels ever. Whilst all the bits are in the right place and all the characters are present, they’re just not right (well, apart from Jonathan, but Jonathan was useless in the original, too). I can’t add most of the comments I want to make, because they’re too spoilery, but I’ll include them at the end of the Goodreads review because they can be hidden there. Suffice to say that a disservice has been done to the other original characters, especially Mina and Van Helsing. Disappointing.

I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

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