Monday, July 15, 2019

Dracula: Prince of Darkness

Among the many vampire anthologies edited by Martin H. Greenberg, the theme of DRACULA: PRINCE OF DARKNESS (1992) is self-evident. This is a compilation of all-original stories about the vampire Count. The introduction by Stefan Dziemianowicz enthusiastically embraces the popular belief that Bram Stoker's novel was "derived from the exploits of a historical figure" (Vlad the Impaler), a position that has been thoroughly disproved (at least, so far as one can prove a negative). As renowned Dracula scholar Elizabeth Miller has demonstrated, there's no evidence that Stoker knew anything about the life of Vlad the Impaler other than a short passage in one research source, which doesn't even mention the "Impaler" nickname. As Stoker's working notes show, he didn't come across this reference until he'd already started planning the novel, whose villain was originally called "Count Wampyr." Dziemianowicz's assumption can be pardoned, however, considering the date of this anthology. The rest of the introduction discusses the character of Dracula, his influence, and the roots of readers' fascination with him.

The stories, by a host of distinguished horror authors, range over several centuries, some from the viewpoint of the vampire lord's enemies or victims, some told through his own eyes. A few highlights: In Bentley Little's "Hard Times," we follow Dracula through a modern city as he contemplates his fall from his glorious past to the status of a mere scavenger. A not-very-nice motel night manager in "Dracuson's Driver," by Richard Laymon, assaults a female guest who drives a hearse, to his intense regret. Matthew J. Costello, in "Deep Sleep," narrates how the Count survives the disaster of the Titanic by retreating to his coffin and hibernating on the ocean floor. (If every character portrayed in film and fiction as sailing on the Titanic were really aboard, no wonder they ran out of lifeboats.) "The Black Wolf," by Wendi Lee and Terry Beatty, places Dracula in the nineteenth-century American West. The narrator of Warner Lee's "Cult" attempts to rescue (or retrieve) a victim from a sinister organization. Douglas Borton's "Voivode" comprises the journal of a screenwriter touring Romania and visiting Dracula's castle. F. Paul Wilson's "The Lord's Work," which features a vampire-slaying nun, eventually formed part of his novel MIDNIGHT MASS, set in a world overrun by the undead. The anthology concludes with "Like a Pilgrim to the Shrine," by Brian Hodge, in which an ambitious young vampire tracks down the legendary Dracula.

My favorite story in the book, "The Wind Breathes Cold," by P. N. Elrod, became the first chapter of her delightful "good guy vampire" novel QUINCEY MORRIS, VAMPIRE (which I reviewed here in July 2013).

Margaret L. Carter

Please explore love among the monsters at Carter's Crypt.


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