Is anybody here besides me old enough to remember Twiggy, the ultra-thin supermodel of the late 1960s? DRACUTWIG (1969), by Mallory T. Knight, shows unmistakable signs of having been partly inspired by her fame. This over-the-top parody of the Dracula mythos as incarnate in the Hammer horror films begins with a brief encounter between Count Dracula and the village “slut,” Charmaine. When she becomes pregnant, her family descends on the castle with a priest and the conventional implements of undead-slaying to force a marriage. After Charmaine dies in childbirth, her parents take the newborn girl away. At the baby’s christening, however, her reaction causes the villagers to jump to the conclusion that she has inherited the vampire taint. Her grandparents leave her on the doorstep of the castle.
The Count names her Dracutwig because, “She is a fresh green twig on an otherwise long-dead family tree.” She grows up as a normal girl, or as normal as she can be while living in a vampire’s castle with her days and nights reversed, the undead for babysitters, and a wolf for a pet. When she becomes an alluring teenager, though, one of the Count’s minions shows too much interest in her body and blood. For her safety, Dracula sends her to England. Delighted with the London scene, she quickly finds a boyfriend and becomes a fashion model. Unfortunately, soon afterward Dracutwig’s vampire genes begin to express themselves, and laughably ghoulish consequences ensue. Then the Count comes to England to rescue his little girl. . . .
“Mallory T. Knight” is a pseudonym for Bernhardt J. Hurwood, author of TERROR BY NIGHT and several other nonfiction books about the undead, werewolves, and similar creatures. (In fact, the paperback of TERROR BY NIGHT was the first such book I ever read or owned.) DRACUTWIG concludes with a long afterword about vampire lore and legends, delivered in a humorous tone. The essay ends with speculation about how vampires might fit openly into human society. It strikes me as a little tacky that “Knight” repeatedly cites himself, in his Hurwood persona, as an authority, but in a book intended as lighthearted satire that’s not a major offense. Although the London section of the story (which comprises most of the page count) is unavoidably dated, this novel is still a fun read if you like a parodic send-up of vampire clichés. Amazon has a few used copies for sale.
Margaret L. Carter