LITTLE BOOK OF HORROR: DRACULA. (0CTOBER 2005) PUBLISHED BY IDW PUBLISHING.
WRITTEN BY STEVE NILES. PAINTED ART BY RICHARD SALA.
REVIEW BY SANDRA HARRIS. ©
I recently discovered this little illustrated gem of a book on my son’s bookshelf, and remembered then having bought it for him when he was younger in an attempt to encourage him to read independently.
Now I’ve had a proper read of it, I’m making an executive decision and totally commandeering it for myself. It’s far too good to waste on the young, lol, and can only properly be appreciated by persons of mature(ish!) age such as myself.
It tells what I call the real Dracula story, as in the one Bram Stoker wrote, with little or no variations, which I like. I like the pure unadulterated story myself, and I tend to get heart attacks when people mess with it, such as in the 2020 New Year BBC television Dracula. Although I could forgive a hunky Dracula such as Claes Bang anything, especially if he’s going to do those delicious nudie scenes…
Anyway, the book starts, as it should, with real estate clerk John Harker making what is possibly the longest fictional journey ever to set the seal on a property deal. He travels to darkest Transylvania in Romania to meet with the mysterious and rich Count Dracula, who wishes to purchase a house near to where John lives in jolly old England.
I think it’s safe to say that the artist who did the fabulous illustrations in the book was a fan of the 1931 UNIVERSAL film version of Dracula, starring Bela Lugosi. He’s created a village very similar to the UNIVERSAL one, which I love because I adore those old movies.
It’s got winding streets, worried villagers clad in sort of Tyrolean dress like they are in the old fillums, and there’s even a barefoot busty blonde maiden crossing the street with her basket of produce who wouldn’t be out of place in a Hammer film.
Hammer Films, of course, had their Dracula-slash-vampire canon which we horror fans will know intimately by now. Christopher Lee was their Count in seven movies made between 1958 and 1972, but they made several other excellent vampire films as well, such as BRIDES OF DRACULA, KISS OF THE VAMPIRE and VAMPIRE CIRCUS.
Anyway, above the village on its very own mountain towers Castle Dracula, and when the villagers in the local inn find out that John actually intends travelling up there to meet the Count, they all have collective heart attacks. The portly, pint-pulling innkeeper and the two busty Hammer-esque barmaids are particularly well drawn in the pub scene.
John, as we know, has come all this way to do a job, so he supposes he’d better do it, and he makes his way up to the infamous Borgo Pass- try getting a taxi up there at night and you’ll see what I mean!- where a mysterious coachman with four super-spooky skeletal horses picks him up and takes him to where he needs to go… Castle Dracula…
The Count is waiting. His ramshackle castle looks just like Bela Lugosi’s in the 1931 film and is beyond cool. A crumbling staircase, bats, ancient candelabra, high windows; it’s everything you could wish for in a Dracula’s Castle-type situation. Except maybe for an armadillo or two…!
John has his meal and pricks his finger, making it bleed. Dracula’s strange reaction, and the presence in the castle of the three busty, sexy, negligee-clad corpse brides of Dracula complete with fangs and a raging blood-lust combine to convince poor John that maybe the villagers were right all along. Maybe Dracula is an evil, blood-sucking vampire and he should never have come up here…
By the time John realises this, of course, it’s too late. He’s a prisoner in Castle Dracula and the Count himself is hastening to England, and John’s hot fiancée, Mina. John has only the sex-crazed wives to keep him company, although, as this is a child’s book, the sex is only implied, lol.
Do you know the rest of the story? Dracula, installed in Carfax Abbey; Mina losing more and more of her strength- and blood- every night thanks to his nocturnal visits; the doctors baffled, unable to help her; then the calling in of the eccentric Doctor Van Helsing to accurately diagnose the situation and suggest a solution.
The drawings of the Count’s Carfax Abbey cellar, complete with coffins and his deranged (only deranged BECAUSE of Dracula), bug-eating assistant, Renfield, are so bloody good that they make you feel you’re really there.
Will John be in time to save Mina, and also for the inevitable showdown between Van Helsing and the evil, power-crazed Count Dracula, who wants to suck the blood of everyone in England?
How would that work, anyway? Would it be like waiting for a vaccine, with portals and cohorts and online registration and all that? For something bad, they’d probably (ironically) get it organised super-quick, lol.
None of this old I’ve been waiting six whole weeks to get my blood-sucking and four of my neighbours, who are all younger than me with no underlying health conditions, have gotten theirs first and I’m spitting with rage bullshit. Can’t you just see it?
Wouldn’t that be funny, though? A frazzled Dracula would be on the news and all the talk shows, saying: I am doing my best to get around to everybody as quickly as I can, but I am only one man, for the love of God…! Until the government allocate sufficient numbers of flies and bugs for me to entice my helpers with, a good many more people will continue to walk around well and healthy and there will be nothing I can do about it…! Lol, lol, lollity lol.
Anyway, this is the best children’s book on the subject of Dracula I’ve ever come across. The story is simply and accurately told, with none of that nonsense of changing up the details and putting Dracula into the future and seeing how he copes with washing-machines and fridges and stuff.
The illustrations are superb, and evoke both the UNIVERSAL and Hammer-era films, which is amazing for fans of the old films like myself. Pick it up and have a read if you ever come across it; it captures the spirit and essence of the Bram Stoker book perfectly.
AUTHOR BIOGRAPHY OF SANDRA HARRIS.
Sandra Harris is a Dublin-based novelist, poet, short story writer and film and book blogger. She has studied Creative Writing and Vampirology. She has published a number of e-books on the following topics: horror film reviews, multi-genre film reviews, women’s fiction, erotic fiction, erotic horror fiction and erotic poetry. Several new books are currently in the pipeline. You can browse or buy any of Sandra’s books by following the link below straight to her Amazon Author Page:
Her debut romantic fiction novel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books:
The sequel, ‘THIRTEEN STOPS LATER,’ is out now from Poolbeg Books: