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April 26, 2016

V is for Vicious Vampire #AtoZChallenge

by Alison DeLuca



When I was in 5th grade, I bought Dracula from one of those book order forms. Remember those? You paid 50 cents and weeks later got a flimsy paperback in return. Heaven!


courtesy wiki commons
The day I received Dracula, my first peek inside showed it was written in diary and letter formats. What a disappointment! I didn’t crack the book again until I had to stay home sick with stomach flu. There was nothing else interesting on the bookshelf, and so I settled down to Bram Stoker’s classic.

Days followed, and I could not put down the book. I couldn’t sleep either, since I was convinced an eerie fog with glowing red coals for eyes would enter my bedroom the instant I turned off the light. Sorry, Mom, for that electric bill, but I really thought turning off my bunny night light meant certain death.

Stoker sucked me in (see what I did there) with his masterful suspense and misty atmosphere. In the thick fogs rolling across London and the English countryside, anything could happen. I was particularly aghast and thrilled by the section including news clippings about the Boofer Lady, a white phantom haunting the moors after Lucy’s death. And just as the action seemed to slow down, along came Professor Van Helsing with blood transfusions and hypnosis.

The book is a masterpiece of horror, not pausing until the very end. In the cold light of the new millennium, Dracula might seem dated. However, Stoker’s genius of continually upping the stakes (I’ll stop) keeps the story horrifying.

Besides, the characters are simply amazing. We start with Jonathan Harker, a London businessman who nearly becomes the first victim. Perhaps he’s only saved by the Count’s need for those boxes of earth from Transylvania.

We then move to my favorite character and Jonathan’s fiancĂ©e, Mina Murray. She’s strong, intelligent, and brave. Along the way she’s attacked and, as a result, develops paranormal powers. This fits perfectly within Stoker’s alternate universe.
courtesy wiki commons

In my opinion, Mina is the first real super hero. She is strong, but the villain exploits what he sees as a weakness – her love for her best friend, Lucy. Dracula feeds on Mina and gives her insight into his alien mentality. Mina works with the very odd Van Helsing (hello, the King Laugh speech? What is that all about?) and Jonathan, now her husband, to use her new powers for good.

And did I mention the sections set in the insane asylum? The diary narrated by Dr. Seward as analysis of his patient, Renfield, really stands on its own as a terrifying short story. What happens to Renfield is one of the saddest things I’ve ever read. It fits with what Stephen King tells us about writing horror: “I try to create sympathy for my characters, then turn the monsters loose.”

Stoker accomplished all of this without sexual tension, descriptions of male torsos or female chests, ‘her blood sings to me’ or the like. Dracula remains my favorite vampire, because he just doesn’t care about you.


He wants to bite your neck, and feed.


Alison DeLuca, features writer. Alison is the author of several steampunk and urban fantasy books.  She was born in Arizona and has also lived in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Mexico, Ireland, and Spain. Currently she wrestles words and laundry in New Jersey. Connect with Alison on FacebookTwitterGoogle+Pinterest, and her blog.


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