Dracul by Dacre Stoker and JD Barker

Dracul

Dacre Stoker and JD Barker

A riveting novel of gothic suspense, Dracul reveals not only Dracula’s true origin, but Bram Stoker’s—and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.

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The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s—and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.

It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here...

A sickly child, Bram spent his early days bedridden in his parents' Dublin home, tended to by his caretaker, a young woman named Ellen Crone. When a string of strange deaths occur in a nearby town, Bram and his sister Matilda detect a pattern of bizarre behavior by Ellen—a mystery that deepens chillingly until Ellen vanishes suddenly from their lives. Years later, Matilda returns from studying in Paris to tell Bram the news that she has seen Ellen—and that the nightmare they've thought long ended is only beginning.


Advance Galley Reviews

What a fantastic idea for a story! I love anything that places the author in the story, so I'm a sucker for this prequel to Dracula by J.D. Barker.

Dracul, the self-proclaimed prequel to "Dracula", was an amazing read I could not put down. Spooky details made it fun to read during the Halloween season, although it will give you chills no matter the time of year. Despite never reading the classic, I am driven to after this. There are so many plot twists that you'll want to finish it in one sitting once you really get into it.

This is a prequel to Bram Stoker's novel Dracula - and was written using Bram Stoker's journals and texts. It gives understanding of why Bram Stoker wrote Dracula. The story is about Bram, his sister Matilda, and brother Thornley and their experience with the undead. The beginning of the book was a little slow but about a third of the way in - the book really picked up steam and I couldn't wait to finish. What I found really interesting is the notes at the end. When Bram Stoker originally published Dracula - he wrote that it was a true story. However the publisher made him take out the foreward that it was a true story as well as the first 101 pages of the book (the first 101 pages have still yet to surface). Bram also insisted that he be cremated right after his death which was at a time when cremation wasn't a popular choice. The thought was that he was worried that Dracul (Dracula) would come and claim him. Thank you First Reads for the advanced reader copy.

I had a difficult time with this book and it included many stops and starts, but about one hundred pages in the characters became more interesting to me, and the story really took off. I would recommend this to those that love Dracula and their stories that are Dracula adjacent.

Initially, finding out this book – the prequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula – was co-written by Stoker’s great-grandnephew gave me pause. It seemed like a money grab based on his name alone. Digging deeper, we find out that the story is based on texts and notes from Bram Stoker’s vault…intriguing! And, with the help of award winning author J.D. Barker, they set off to tell us about Bram Stoker and how he was influenced to pen Dracula. I admittedly had trouble getting into the book. I started it once, made it about 30-35 pages then stopped. A week or two later, I started it again and, this time, the story gripped me. I had little trouble finishing this 500-page novel quickly. The characters and plot were well planned. The story is told from many perspectives as the novel is a “collection” of the characters’ journals. And, what a story it is! We learn about Dracul’s past and his reasons for being the evil being that he is. We learn about Ellen Crone and her tragic tale of love and sacrifice. We learn about the entire Stoker family and how they get caught up in a centuries old feud. Bram Stoker’s Dracula has always been one of my favorite novels. I was a bit worried that this book might ruin that but it did not. It was an excellent read with a ton of action, an exciting plot and a tremendous conclusion. I recommend it for any fans of Dracula. One of the more interesting points is made in the author’s notes at the end. He claims that the original Dracula manuscript was changed by its publisher to remove the line that it was a true story. Think about that! My only criticism of the book is that early on it seemed the authors tried writing in an 1800’s style through the dialogue but as the book progressed, that effort was abandoned. I received an advanced copy of this book in electronic format from firsttoread.com in exchange for an honest review. This review is also posted to goodreads.com

Beautifully atmospheric, capturing the feel of Bram Stoker's original. A perfect read for Halloween/Samhain.

I absolutely loved this book! I could not put it down and have told many people they must read it. I do suggest however, that you read it during the daylight hours or at the very least when someone else is at home. The book has very vivid details that may perhaps seem to come to life once you have set the book aside. :) I loved the history of Bram Stoker that was woven into the story. Is this a true account of his life? Only the reader can decide, but I am leaning toward yes. The authors have created a prequel to Dracula that reads like it was written first. A complete triumph in mirroring Bram's work. A 5+ star read. I would give it 10 stars if I could.

Dracul has very vivid descriptions, which is great during the action scenes, but makes for a bit of a slow buildup. Also, there's so much emphasis on journals, which I suppose is a good nod to the originals, but seems a bit implausible, or that the writing styles and fonts should be more different. Also, the conclusion of the Countess' story is a major break in the plot. It would have been interesting to get more of a theory as to why Bram is able to break all the rules of the other draculs. Overall, definitely an entertaining read, and very interesting to try to couch supernatural events and powers into a somewhat realistic context, and focus on how people might deal with these things. Also, an interesting structure to catch up to and surpass the "Now" period that we check in on from time to time in the beginning, and the sense of menace in those parts being both inside and outside.

The premise of this book is that Bram Stoker's "Dracula" was inspired by Bram's brushes with the undead during his childhood and early adulthood. Most of the first part of the book is told through journal entries of more than one character. I sometimes had to flip back to remember from whose point of view the current chapter was being written from. The second part is told mainly through third person narrative. I found the book to be a very interesting read and would highly suggest it to those interested in vampire lore.

Dracul is sort of a prequel to Bram Stoker's Dracula, if you will. Though I've never read the original Dracula, I do have a ton of interest in vampires and the folklore surrounding them. This novel is written by Dacre Stoker (something like Bram Stoker's great-great-great nephew or something) and J.D. Barker. What I never knew, until reading this novel, is that Bram Stoker believed his story of Dracula to be real, which is all sorts of terrifying. Dracul is a book written based off notes of Bram's about his famous vampire character. There's snippets of these notes at the end of this novel. I was really impressed with this book - I struggled with it at times, but simply for the fact it was a e-book I read, as opposed to physical pages of story. The writing was enthralling and the story was chilling. I was a little bit confused with the timeline, but it cleared itself up eventually. I became easily attached to the characters. And honestly, I couldn't read the story too late at night because it kind of freaked me out. There is gore, and the story is incredibly haunting, but this is the perfect read just in time for Halloween. I would definitely recommend - and don't worry if you haven't read Dracula. It had no influence on my understanding of the story. Also, how gorgeous is that cover?

I am a huge fan of the original "Dracula" by Bram Stoker, and this prequel/origin story is thoroughly engaging. I would not necessarily call it a high quality read in the same way that I consider the original to be, but definitely entertaining and appropriately moody and dramatic. Would definitely recommend!

To say that I'm a huge fan of Stoker's Dracula is a massive understatement. It's one of my favorite books of all time, and I'm a sucker for any pastiche, retelling, or sequel to the original. A book like Dracul is certainly catnip for me, so I was excited to get a copy of it for review! Man, did I enjoy the heck out of this book. Dracul is a prequel of sorts to Dracula, though it follows the life of Bram Stoker rather than his titular character. Kinda. This book takes huge liberties with reality by bringing them up against fiction, which Stoker and Barker do with cleverness and aplomb. This book is packed with as many spine-tingling moments as the original, and it's written in a voice--and in epistolary format!--so that it feels pretty contemporary to the original. My one criticism comes in terms of character development. Unlike Dracula, which delves into psychology to flesh out the Crew of Light, this story just...doesn't quite hit that note. But it's not worth throwing the baby out with the bathwater! Dracul is packed with enough thrills, chills, and Easter eggs to make both casual and hardcore Stoker fans grin with delight. The ending of the book seems like it could be positioning itself for a sequel, which I hope is the case!

This intriguing prequel to Dracula, had me mesmerized from the first page. Dacre Stoker, the great grandnephew of Bram Stoker, and J.D. Barker deliver a chilling tale that will keep readers up to the wee hours of the morning.

I was given a copy of "Dracul" by Dacre Stoker and JD Baker in exchange for a fair and honest review. I really enjoyed this book as much as someone can enjoy this type of novel. “Dracul” is intentioned as somewhat of a “Dracula” prequel, or perhaps a better way to explain it would be to say it is a “Dracula” origin story. The tale is woven through an interesting manipulation of time so that you are being shuffled between Bram’s past and present. It also utilizes various first-person character perspectives that are wonderful genuine and founded, in some degree, in the historical record. The premise of the book is rather gripping and I found myself attempting to anticipate what feature would be revealed to me next. The tale begins with an ill bed-ridden Bram becoming mysteriously healed by an evening spent in the company of the family’s nanny. Her effect on Bram is noticeable to all in the house and the fallout from this cure is the focus of the novel. Bram and his older sister Matilda spend the rest of the novel attempting to understand what happened that evening, both as children and as adults. Various other characters, including many more of Stoker’s actual family members, get roped into the affair as they try to discover just who, or what, their beloved nanny really is. I have had the good fortune of hearing Dacre speak before on his familial connection to Bram and his passion for this project comes through in this book in so many ways. The believability of the plot, the genuineness of all his characters, and the realness of the setting are all clearly intention and thoughtful choices. It is a fun read that I am convinced would turn any skeptic into a believer, if only for the duration of the book. I found myself rather immersed in the story and was relieved that the plot played out somewhat convincingly. Ultimately, I would say this novel is not for the “Dracula” purists among us (if such a people exist,) but it is a well-told and impeccably researched novel that delves into the inspiration behind one of literatures most famous characters.

I read Bram Stoker's Dracula for Halloween 25 years ago and have made it a point to read an equally chilling book each year since. This year, I recommend Dracul to anyone who has a similar Halloween reading ritual. Dacre Stoker and J.D Barker pay homage to the original in their prequel novel, which uses letters and journal entries to similar effect. A few key characters come into the novel fairly late. One in particular kicks the original's tail in terms of horror and evil.

Thanks to the First to Read program for a digital arc of Dracul to review. The following review is my honest opinion of the book. I enjoyed this book so much. A prequel to Dracula, Dracul takes the reader on the journey of Bram. A sickly child, there is little hope for Bram until his Nana Ellen takes him under her wing and gives him renewed life. Unsure of what exactly she has done to make him well, Bram and his sister Matilda make it their mission to discover Ellen's secrets. When Ellen abruptly disappears, the children are left wondering why. As adults, sightings of Ellen (who appears not to have aged) fuel the search again. I loved the format used to tell this story. The reader is taken back and forth between then and now and the story is brought to life through the journal entries and notes of the characters. It's an effective and captivating way to learn the story, as the reader gets to discover what each character is thinking and feeling at various times throughout the story. I also loved that I got a truly creepy vibe at various times. There is a particular scene in a morgue that freaked me out! The ending left me a bit puzzled. I had a few unanswered questions and wonder if there will be another book to follow (hopefully so!). (I also had a bit of trouble loading the pages and wasn't certain that I hadn't missed some parts.) I would definitely recommend this book to others, especially those who love Dracula. This is a perfect read for Halloween!

Thanks to Penguin’s First To Read for letting me read a digital Arc of Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker. I loved, loved, loved this novel. Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker based “Dracul” on the personal notes and journals of Bram Stoker. Their writing style is reminiscent of Dracula with character’s describing events in journal entries. The story follows two timelines – when the Stokers were children and then in the late 1800 as adults. This a tale of three Stoker siblings and the nanny who played a major role in their young lives. Bram, a frail, sickly child, was on the brink of death when his nanny, Ellen C., took him into her room for the night. The next morning, Bram’s health improves and the nanny disappears into thin air. Residual effects of Bram’s cure are puncture marks on his wrist that itch, improved vision and hearing, and eternal good health. Fourteen years into the future, Bram’s sister, Matilda, sees the nanny, Ellen, in Paris looking younger than she did years ago. Matilda shares this sighting with her siblings, Bram and Thornley. As they search for Ellen to get answers to the strange events that occurred when they were kids as well as the present, they meet a Van Helsing like character named Arminius Vambery. The four travel throughout Europe trying to find Ellen and, in the process, discover another being looking for her, Dracul. Dracul is scarier than the Dracula in the Bram Stoker novel. This Nosferatu is a cold, evil, calculating, vicious homicidal maniac! He can shape-shift into bees and sting ruthlessly, Oh My! He can summon huge, slithering snakes, yikes! The undead rest in coffins filled with dirt and earthworms, ugg! There are vampires (good) fighting vampires (bad), good versus, evil, etc. I loved how the Stoker siblings worked together to find Ellen and get answers to the strange events and not realizing the correlation to the present. I loved the strong female characters, especially Matilda; she was sensible and tough as nails. This book is very spine-chilling, creepy, and kept me on the edge of my seat. I could feel the fear, terror, anxiety, tension, and horror the characters felt (OMG). Thanks for allowing me to read a prequel that is scarier than the original.

Dracul is a nice prequel to Stoker's Dracula. It did take a little while for me to get into the book, but once I reached part 2, I was hooked. The format was the same as Dracula, written in the form of journals and letters, which was effective. It definitely makes me want to go back and read Dracula again.

A nice rendering of a companion to the Cracula story. It follows the format Stoker used in Dracula, quoting diaries or journals to ove the story along. I would recommend it to the hard core Dracula/Stoker fan, but for those not familiar with the original probably wouldn’t apprecrate this effort

Dracula is a new modern take on Brahman Stoker's Dracula. I have mixed feelings about this book. At times I found it hard to put down and at others I was bored to death. If you are expecting horror this book is not it. The novel follows Brahm Stroker from birth to close to his death. Entwined in the tale we are introduced to his older brother Thornley, his older sister Matilda and their Nanny Ellen Crone. Ellen appeared out of nowhere when Brahm was born and thought to be dead but somehow breathed life into him. As the story progresses Brahm goes from a sickly child to one who seems to have above normal health and stamina. Matilda and Brahm start to notice disturbing things about their nanny. From here the legend of Dracul, later to be called Dracula, unfolds. I thought the storyline of the book was uneven. At times it really held my interest at others it was a chore to continue reading. The novel takes on a substantial story that never seems complete. Although it is about Brahm Stoker it leaves out much of the Dracula legend which it is built on therefore leaving the reader floundering to put the pieces together. It also introduces Ellen Crone who has a strong connection to Dracula. More of Dracula would have made the storyline stronger and it would have made more sense. Character development was also lacking for me. We learn ABOUT the characters without really knowing who they are. Sadly Matilda is the most developed character in the book. Although she is important to the storyline Brahm, Ellen and especially Dracula are the characters who should have been better fleshed out to make this story flow. I can't recommend this book. If you want Dracula read the original work by Brahm Stoker. If you want more information on Brahm Stoker then read a biography. This book is readable but uneven at best.

It has been years since I read Dracula but after reading Dracul it may be time to revisit the s book has a sinister tone throughout while also introducing an historical element in exploring Bram Stoker’s life. Alternating his battle against pure evil with journal entries and letters that begin his story as a sickly child, it introduces his nanny Ellen Crane. It is Ellen who helps him when he is ill, which visibly ages her. She will often disappear for days and return looking younger. With his sister Matilda they look to solve the mystery of who she is. After the siblings search her room and make disturbing discoveries, Ellen permanently disappears. Fourteen years later Matilda spots her in Paris and she has not aged at all, re-igniting their curiosity about Ellen and unnatural occurrences that they have observed in the area. Having grown up with the movies of Bela Lugosi and Lon Chaney, I looked forward to Dracul. What scared me as a child is tame and somewhat laughable compared to Stoker and Barker’s tale. This is a story that you can get caught up in and I thank First to Read for providing this book to review.

This was such a marvelous read that even at 500 pages, I didn’t want it to end. The writing was sublime, and evokes a similar mood and feeling as Dracula. I enjoyed the characters and found that Bram’s POV really held my attention. Definitely will be a fall favorite read for many seasons to come! I greatly appreciated the chance to enjoy this before it was released and will definitely be purchasing it for future rereads.

Thanks to Penguin's First to Read for a digital ARC of this book. This is the second Dacre Stoker "Dracula" book I've read (I read--and even taught once--his Dracula: The Undead ). The first, a sequel, was okay. It was fun and an interesting piece of Neo-Vic that works as a companion to Bram Stoker's original. So I was very interested in reading this new novel, but . . . I had no idea how much I'd enjoy it! This is a fabulously innovative story that meticulously blends Bram Stoker's real life with plot strands from Dracula . And something I didn't expect: there are some authentically creepy scenes. The two stories--the true bio and the fictional Gothic classic--are interwoven seamlessly and make you wonder at the end what was true and what was false. You might even find yourself re-considering if this creature, Dracul, was real after all! Whether you're a Dracula aficionado or just just in the mood for some good Halloween fun, I highly recommend this one!

I am a fan of Dracula.I grew up watching the movies. I loved this book. It gave me insight into the background of the story. The way in which it's formatted makes for easy reading. The flashes of the present and the past kept me motivated to move on to see how the story developed.I loved the characters of Bram and Matilda. The vivid details in different scenes makes the reader feel present within the story. This book is pretty scary but I just couldn't stop reading it.

I really liked this book! It had all the elements of a Gothic horror novel and now I feel prepared to finally read Dracula! Yes, I have never read Dracula. I plan on reading it and then finishing with Dracula the Un-Dead to get the prequel, the original, and sequel. I got chills reading this book. I liked learning about Bram Stoker's youth and upbringing. Dacre did his family research and included as much as possible to make this as close to real as possible. I liked Nanna Ellen and her backstory a lot. Matilda was a great, headstrong, female character. This book does a lot of travelling and I thought it would get confusing but it wasn't. The books goes between present day Bram and the twenty years prior, leading up to the present. Multiple POVs and journal entries as well. I really liked the feel of this book. Can't wait to read Dracula finally!

For whatever reason, this book refused to open on any device I attempted to read it on, therefore I will not be reviewing it.

I don’t think I ever read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Now it is on my TBR list. Dracul is a prequel to the original novel. This book provides light on Bram Stoker’s childhood, siblings, and of course their nanny who sets Stoker on his way to divulge everything he learns about the Count. When I thought of Dracula, my thoughts go to Bela Lugosi but as usual the books provide so much more understanding of what he is. There are tidbits in this novel that are so vivid ...There is a scene in a hospital morgue that discusses the origin of the term “Dead Ringer”. The bodies would have a bell lied to their hand in the unfortunate circumstance that they weren’t quite dead, If they moved , hopefully they would be heard. The book describes a cacophony of bells ringing...I am still replaying that in my headl. A fun read and well paced. Thanks for ARC of Dracul.

I don't remember how old I was when I first read Bram Stoker's Dracula, but I do remember being enthralled. It is one of those books that sits on my bookshelf and every few years(around Halloween), I take it down and lose myself in the story yet again. I was pretty excited to see one of my favorite authors JD Barker had co-written Dracul with Dacre Stoker and I settled in with my copy for a mid-September read. This book is a prequel to Dracula that will have you thinking about that book in a whole new way. The story revolves around Bram Stoker who was a sickly child and seemed destined to live a life full of pain and suffering and most likely die at a young age. The story alternates between young Bram and Bram as an adult. How he recovered from his illness and the evil he is currently fighting are at the heart of this suspenseful tale. Did Bram Stoker write a fictional tale when he penned Dracula or did something much more personal inspire his story? No spoilers here, but if you are a Dracula fan, this was a very illuminating and engaging book. It was dark and creepy and the atmosphere was perfect for a pre-Halloween scary story. If you like books about vampires, especially Dracula, this book adds a whole new layer to that classic tale. I don't usually think of this type of book as a fun read, but in addition to the horror and suspense aspects, there is an interesting and fun dynamic when Bram, his sister Matilda, their brother Thornley and a friend, Vambery go 'vampire hunting'.Reading Dracul made me decide that this is the year to read Dracula again and I think I will be seeing that classic with a new set of eyes. Thanks to First To Read for the e-ARC.

Really enjoyed this prequel to a classic. I've read a number of novels surrounding Dracula and this really makes me want to go back and revisit the original. I loved how you got to see different perspectives on the events that were taking place. Although this was on the longer side, it kept your attention throughout. Great read! I would recommend to anyone who is interested in Dracula.

Received a Arc of the book to read and review... Enjoyed the characters and the story... Would definitely recommend... Would read more than once...

Overall I found this story compelling and imaginative. I loved the central plot idea and found it was well done. To me this book was more character driven than plot, but it worked. I loved how thrilling each scene was and liked that you get a second look into the famous story of Dracula. A definite one click read for me!

I love all things Dracula and vampires and could not have found this book to be more necessary and solid. I liked that it tied in Bram's story and how he became what he was in the end. I found the action and overall story to be excellent. The sheer imagery and character development were amazing. I would like to see more about this and would be interested in reading more from this author. Thanks for the ARC, First to Read.

What a fantastic book! I have never read Dracula, though I know the story well, so I was not sure what to expect. I was excited nonetheless and boy did this book live up to the hype! Everything about this book was fascinating up to and including the author acknowledgements. I mean, I read every single page! I can honestly say it will keep me up for more than a few nights to come! I can very easily see this book becoming a major motion picture. I honestly hope they do make it into a movie, and I’ll be sure to be the first in line to see it!

Stoker's prequel to Dracula is just almost (if not just) as exciting as the original story. There's a sense of thrill and action in every part of the plot, and it's definitely a great page turner.

ARC from Penguin First To Read Dracul is based on Bram Stoker’s notes, JD Barker and the great grandnephew of Bram Stoker Dacre Stoker have teamed up to bring us the prequel to the classic Dracula. I know the story of Dracula but have never read the original. I am a fan of JD Barker so I had to read this and I am glad that I did. The story starts with Bram Stoker and his siblings as children living in the English countryside and their Nanny Ellen. Bram is a sickly child and not expected to live long, that is until the very odd Nanny Ellen seems to cure him with her strange powers. Nanny Ellen disappears at night, sometimes for days and weeks at a time, but she always returns to the Stoker family. There are some grisly murders in town and then Nanny Ellen disappears and never returns. Now adults the Stoker siblings set off in search of Nanny Ellen, taking the reader on a exciting journey where we learn the origin of Dracula. A well written, exciting story that has sparked my interest to now read the original books written by Bram Stoker.

Unfortunately there was something wrong with my copy of Dracul. I could not get past the 3rd page without it freezing and kicking me out of the app after a min. I eventually tried returning it and re-downloading and then it said I already had the book. I also tried emailing First To Read twice and got no response back about getting another download. There was nothing wrong with my app because I still had another book from First To Read that was about to expire that worked perfectly fine. Not sure what the issue was but am very disappointed that I did not get to read and review this book as I was really looking forward to it.

Dracul is the fictionalization (or is it?) of the youth of Bram Stoker, revealing the origin of the concept of his classic novel Dracula. We follow Bram first as a sickly child, where we meet his unusual nanny Ellen. Some unexplainable things occur which Bram and his sister later try to believe where simply the imaginings of children. We then jump about 15 years when strange happenings are again afoot, including sightings of the disappeared nanny Ellen who does not appear to have aged, odd healing abilities for Bram, and the reappearance of a man who apparently died 15 years before. Overall, this is a fun novel about vampires (a word not used until well past the midpoint of the book) which gradually builds the tension and story with gothic chilliness. The center section is a bit overly derivative of Dracula, but I otherwise thoroughly enjoyed this book and found myself quite invested in it. I do think the climactic scene veered from the gothic qualities of the book, which are otherwise quite strong, and leans a bit modern. But overall this is a satisfying vampire story.

Though recently written, Dracul manages to capture the time period of the original Dracula story, making you feel as if you've stumbled upon a manuscript that was written in the late 1800s. The authors manage to keep the writing and lingo consistent for the time period throughout, making this book partner nicely with the original. The first half of the book is told mainly through letters and journals. We meet Bram Stoker when he's a sickly child in Ireland with an odd, but loving, nanny. Something seems amiss with the mysterious lady who doesn't seem to age, and so Bram and his plucky sister Mathilda decide to investigate. We finally find ourselves in "present day" where Bram and his siblings are all now adults and Bram hasn't endured a sick day since childhood. The Stoker family's past is coming back to haunt them, and it seems that they are the only ones who can protect the unknowing populace from the threat of vampires. The creepiness factor is present throughout. I enjoyed the slow burn of having just a few instances sprinkled throughout, building up to the final showdown. This is the perfect book to read in around Halloween, providing just enough spookiness to have you turn on all the lights in your house as you read. If you're a fan of gothic novels, then pick up Dracul. You won't be disappointed. My only complaint is that I wish the author's note had been included at the beginning of the story, rather than the end. Once I learned that Bram Stoker originally pitched his original Dracula as a non-fiction book, it added another aspect of the novel (and creepiness) that I wish I could have had before finishing it. The history behind the Stokers and the Dracula story was incredibly intriguing though, and I can't wait to delve into the original Dracula soon.

Ah, this was awesome! The summary was enough to catch my eye, not to mention the Stoker last name, so I am beyond excited that I loved DRACUL as much as I did. This book was creepy, dark, and wonderfully suspenseful. It has been a long time since I read the original DRACULA novel, but I am eager to reread it as soon as I can. DRACUL is a prequel of sorts written by one of Bram Stoker's descendants. It combines historical aspects of Bram's life with a tale of Dracula before the famous book. Rumor has it that Bram Stoker originally pitched DRACULA as a true story, so this is meant to be the prequel that leads up to what happens in that story. The authors utilized old journals, manuscripts, and letters to build this story. Even though this is quite a long book, it is worth taking time to read the Author's Note at the end to see what exactly was utilized to put this story together. DRACUL is told mostly from the perspective of Bram Stoker through the years, but also includes the perspective of his siblings and another character that joins them on their quest. Bram was a sickly child and relied completely on Ellen Crone, their nanny, to stay healthy. Bram and his sister, Matilda, seemed to be the only ones suspicious about how Ellen Crone was managing to heal Bram. So begins an exciting and terrifying story that will haunt the siblings for the rest of their lives. Bram and Matilda begin investigating Nanna Ellen and find a lot to be suspicious of. Old maps of cemeteries, an unused bed, and even bloody body parts. Unfortunately Nanna Ellen disappears before the siblings are able to find out anything concrete. It is not until years later that Ellen reappears in their lives and Matilda and Bram decide to find out who she is once and for all. The writing of DRACUL pulled me in from the first page and the descriptions pulled me into the pages as if I was right there with the characters. There is so much that happens that I do not want to spoil, but if you are a fan of dark, gothic tales, and especially stories about vampires, this is a must read. The historical setting added to the creepiness factor and I was engaged to the very last page. Bram was a fascinating main character, but I especially liked his sister, Matilda. She was brave and relentless in her pursuit for the truth. There are a lot of twists and turns in the plot and the ending left me eager to pick up the original DRACULA as soon as I could. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres and I am impressed with how the origin story of the classic Dracula story was woven into this new story. For anyone looking for a dark and eery read as we approach Halloween I highly recommend DRACUL. Definitely one of my favorites of the year.

“It is believed that the strongest of them can assume any form, be it bat, wolf, swirling mist, even human. They can appear young, old, or any age between. Some can manipulate the elements, producing fog, storms, crashing thunder. Their motives remain unknown, but one thing is clear: they leave a trail of death in their wake, thinking no more of a human life than we would the life of a fly.” Dacre Stoker knows a thing or two about vampires, Dracula in particular, given that his great-grand-uncle was none other than Bram Stoker. Dacre has had non-literary careers of his own, but for a while now has picked up the family business and been writing, not only about his illustrious ancestor, but (with some assistance from writing partners) fiction relating to you know who. He wrote a sequel to Dracula a few years back, incorporating Bram as a character. This time he has written a prequel. Bram - image from GotIreland.com We spend time with Bram Stoker at age seven, a sickly child since birth. (as was the real Bram), but with a particularly interesting nanny, one Ellen Crone. (the actual name of the Stoker nanny) She does not eat with the family, preferring to dine alone. But she is very caring toward the Stoker children, most particularly Bram. The family summons a medical relation when Bram seems to be getting worse. But the application of leeches is not what Bram needs. Ellen has a better idea, and takes care of him. Soon after, he begins a true recovery, bounding from sickly child to a very active one. Shame about that scabby itch on his arm though. You g Bram and his sister, Matilda, sink their teeth into this mystery and engage in a bit of field research. Dacre Stoker and friends - Image from ValeOfGlamorgan.com Part of the fun of this book is seeing the usually pretty clear lines between the real Bram’s novel and Dacre’s prequel. Where did the notion of Dracula originate? How about Van Helsing? Damsels in distress? (or were they maybe enjoying themselves a bit too much for Victorian mores?) Dacre has a lot of original material from which to draw, Bram’s, at least what has not been lost to the sands of time (or maybe preserved in a coffin somewhere for safe keeping). Dacre has also written non-fiction books about his esteemed ancestor, and had a bit of a road-show, Stoker on Stoker, in which he lectured about Bram and his book. Another fun element, for me anyway, was the opportunity looking into this book offered to dig up some dirt on the real Bram. The one piece of intel that I found most amazing was that when Bram first submitted his manuscript, it was as a work of non-fiction. Because of tender sensibilities at the time about a relatively recent bout of wide scale mortality, it was thought better to present it as fiction. In doing that, the first 101 pages of Bram’s manuscript vanished like a sated bloodsucker on a foggy night. I have put some fun materials in EXTRA STUFF if and you are irresistibly drawn to diving down rabbit holes. The 1922 German Nosferatu – image from Smithsonian Magazine So, the story of Dracul, sick boy and sis try to find out what the real deal is with the beloved, if decidedly odd. nanny. (Fortune may have blown her into the Stoker family’s life, but no, she did not arrive on the East Wind) There are times when she looks quite young. Others when she seems rather aged. Dacre brings in an old Irish (Stoker was born and raised in Ireland) legend, about a failed love that turns gruesome. The tale of the Dearg-Due is used to wonderful, and meaningful effect. There are two timelines. We open with adult Bram in a castle-like place trying to keep a monster of certain sort locked in a room. Problem is that the various substances he is using to keep the thing from escaping are running out, and there is a real question of whether the aid he is expecting will arrive in time. This contemporary (1868) piece includes the tale of Bram, his family, and others, (including a pre-Van Helsing) trying to track down people, follow clues, and do justice against dark foes. The other line is Bram and his sister, Matilda, as young sibs, with scant understanding of what they have seen, attempting to figure it out. Both lines were fun, although I am not sure there would be many children of the ages portrayed who would be quite so resourceful, even in the mid-19th century. Feel free to suspend your disbelief and let it hang by its toes from the ceiling, as it stares at you with red, hungry eyes. Bela Lugosi defined Dracula for a generation - Image from Smithsonian Magazine In keeping with great-grand-uncle’s form, Dacre tells the story through several sources. 8The Journal of Bram Stoker, Letters from Matilda to Ellen Crone, and The Diary of Thornley Stoker are the primary views. There is also The Notes of Arminius Vambéry, a patient case record, and a few sections that are pure omniscient narrator. All of it made me bare my teeth, in a good way. Dacre adds some nice interpretations of the rules of vampirism, what works, what doesn’t, what their limitations might be. They can change into what? And eye-color shifting, some telepathy, an interesting item on the separated parts of the undead. There are plenty of classic vampire tropes, and for the big guy himself, a reminder of his Carpathian rep for how he disposed of his enemies. Dacre tosses in a few refs to relevant lit of the era, a bit of E.A.Poe, The Woman in White, one or two more. The book closes with a lovely reference, a name that will be familiar. There were also some pretty nifty plot twists, that worked well. Gripes? Well, I mentioned the age-vs-competence thing. No big whoop, really. I confess to occasionally getting an image in my tiny mind of Velma, Daphne, Fred, Shaggy, and a certain pooch, when the adult crew was deciding on a dime to dash to this or that place to pursue the latest clue. I am not saying that I minded this. In fact, it contributed to the fun aspect of the book. But some might not enjoy what seems a bit of lightness in what is supposed to be a horror story. A horror story is supposed to be scary, right? Measured in hours of sleep lost, perhaps, or alarming dreams that jolt one awake. But no, not for me. Take that with a grain of garlic salt, though. I tend to be a fair bit less sensitive to horror than many readers. So it is entirely possible that this is a fairly scary book and I just didn’t notice. But really, this is such an enjoyable read. And that is the bottom line here. It was truly fun reading Dracul. I enjoyed as much the learning it sparked, about Bram in particular. Whether you are type O, A, B, or AB, whether you are positive, negative, or undecided, I strongly urge you to swoop in and see what you can dig up, as you flap along with this fast-paced, engaging and very entertaining book. Review posted – 9/17/18 Publication date – 10/2/18 Paramount Pictures has acquired screen rights to Dracul, but it may be a few years before anything is done with it. I received the e-book from Penguin-Random House’s First to Read program. I did not have to consume or surrender any bodily fluids to get it. PS - It was my intention to have a particular bit of fun with this review. Losing time this week to an out-of-town trip and some other non-review-related activities made incorporating that on time for the usual deadline, or undeadline in this case, more than I could manage. If I can, I will try to get that completed by Halloween. None of this STUFF alters my core review of the book, which is what you see above. =============================EXTRA STUFF Links to the author’s personal, Twitter and FB pages The author’s site link is actually to Bram Stoker – Official Website for the Bram Stoker Estate. Definitely check this one out. There are a lot of fascinating material and useful links. Items of Interest -----Northern Life MagazineDacre Stoker on the mysteries behind the writing of Dracula - by Mark Davis – 18 July 2017 ----- Dacre Stoker, author of "Dracula: The Un-Dead" - Interview with Don Smith – definitely worthwhile -----Irish Faerie Folk of Yore and Yesterday: The Dearg-Due - by Kim -----The Guardian - The Icelandic Dracula: Bram Stoker's vampire takes a second bite - by Colin Fleming – April 19, 2017 -----Smithsonian - Why Does Dracula Wear a Tuxedo? The Origins of Bram Stoker’s Timeless Vampire - by Jimmy Stamp. October 31, 2012-----my link text

It is hard to say how much was written by Stoker's grand-niece and how much by Barker. Dacre Stoker's name does bring in the readers. The writing is very well done and seems to fit the time and place in history. If one did not know that this is a new book it would be hard to tell that it was not written in the twilight of the nineteenth century. This is a prequel and involves Bram Stoker. He was a sickly child who was cared for by Ellen Crone who manages not only to care for but cure the young Stoker's ills. Crone's periodic absences seem to coincide with deaths in a nearby town before her sudden disappearance. While Stoker is recalling his childhood to the reader he is preparing to do battle in the present with an evil. The past and present theme works well and helps set the stage for the book. A surprising prequel written 200 years before the original and fits flawlessly and naturally into to place

1868- Bram Stoker sits behind the bolted door of an old tower, the only thing between him and an unfathomable evil. As twenty one year old Bram awaits his potential demise; he begins to write the story of the events leading up to this fateful night and the unusual woman who connects them. Dracul is an exciting new prelude to the Dracula story written by Dacre Stoker. In this novel Bram recounts his childhood and the events that led to his encounter with the vampire we know as Dracula. As Bram finds his life potentially coming to an end, he decides to journal about the events he has witnessed as a warning to others. The novel begins with Bram, a sickly child near death, and his memories of the unusual caretaker, Nanna Ellen, who saved him. The accounts from Bram, his sister Matilda, and brother Thornley, reveal their personal encounters with the undead, their connection to the Dracul, and the origins of Dracula. This is a masterfully written novel which captures the gothic feel of Dracula while providing a compelling story for modern readers. The author’s notes provide a fascinating look into the Stoker family history which compliments the story and adds an unsettling element. This novel captures your attention right from the start, making it impossible to put down. This is my new personal favorite fall read and I will be preordering a copy to add to my library so I can re-read it every year. This is a must read for fans of historical gothic horror.

Fans of Dracula and the gothic style of vampires will enjoy this book. The first two thirds of the book travel back and forth between Bram Stoker holed up in a room trying to survive the night as well as his diary from age 7 and on. It was a well written insight into how Stoker was "inspired" to write Dracula and while there are hints of things and characters from his novel, this book stands alone as its own story. I enjoyed the "villian is really the victim" storyline and that the story ended well for some, but drastically less so for others.

Sorry, I cannot get this book to open in digital editions, after downloading several times. Thanks for the opportunity.

The "true story" behind Bram Stoker and his tale of Dracula. Gah, I wanted to LOVE this book - I love vampire stories, and slow-burn gothic dread and suspense - but it just didn't quite deliver all the way. During the first two-thirds of the book we jump back and forth between a scene where Bram is trapped in a castle tower fighting off some evil entity, and his journal entries/his sister's letters telling the tale of their lives up to this point. This is a little confusing for two reasons. First, they are told in two different points of view - Bram in the tower is in third-person voice, while the journals and letters are in first-person voice. Second, because the "rules" aren't explained until later in the book, some of what happens in the tower scenes don't make sense to us yet (what's with the roses? Why can't Bram fall asleep? What's up with the wolves?). The mood over the course of the book is inconsistent. During the story of Bram and Matilda's childhood and their trying to unravel the mystery of Nanna Ellen, the story is wonderfully atmospheric and foreboding, and a breadcrumb trail of terror is slowly dropped for them (and us) to follow. Once we get to adult Bram and Matilda's story, however, things morph into more straightforward horror and action, with much less of a sense of building dread and mystery. I think moving the information/notes section from the end of the book to the beginning would be a great improvement - knowing that this was truly based on Bram Stoker's actual journals and the missing chapters of the original Dracula manuscript added another dimension to the story! Don't wait until the end to tell this to the reader! Ultimately, it was a good story and I was pulled in, but I hoped for so much more.

I absolutely loved this book! The writing in this book was beautiful and I could hardly put it down. As a fan of gothic literature, I had so much fun with this book. Dacre Stoker, a relative of Bram Stoker, takes us on an amazing adventure into his family history. Dracul takes us through Bram Stoker's life and helps us see what lead him to write his famous story, Dracula. I cannot praise this book enough! It's been a while since I have seen a modern gothic novel that feels like it deserves this title. This book deserves to be shelves with such classics as Dracula and Frankenstein. One thing that I loved that Dracul did was keep the same feel as Bram Stoker's Dracula with journal entries, letters, and news articles that allow us to see the story unfold over a large period of time. It allowed us to really get to know the Stoker family. Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker very clearly cared about what they were doing with this book and it shows on every single page. I loved how they threw us right into the middle of what was happening to keep us on the edge of our seats the entire way. Between the letters and journal entries that allowed us flashbacks to see how we into our intense situation and being put back into the action going on I was completely engaged. I loved how the writers were so easily made us connect to each character and I am so glad that this didn't feel like a rehashing of Bram Stoker's Dracula which could have happened so easily if they weren't careful. This is going to be a book that I will be recommending to all of my vampire and gothic literature loving friends and family. You are going to want more when you are done with this book.

FTC disclosure: I would like to thank Penguin Random House for providing me with an advance reader copy via access to the galley for free through the First to Read program. All opinions are my own. Not sponsored. Loved this! The writing was beautiful. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys historical fiction, suspense, supernatural thrillers, gothic literature, or horror genres and also to anyone interested in the backstory of Bram Stoker's Dracula, Stoker's early life, and his inspiration for authorship. The authors, Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker, did an amazing job with the preservation of the characteristic epistolary relationship to the narrative and changing of multiple points of view, dialogues, voices, tenses, settings, and time. The original thought was upheld and intention of the story and presentation was well executed in a way that I think brought proud justice to the works of Bram Stoker, as well as his writing process and personal life. The tone was one of discovery and intrigue as it depicted feats beyond human strength within an allegorical context. This included revelations of Bram Stoker in life and story, which was further explained in the authors' note and was fascinating to read. The language, syntax, and decision-making within the plot, though written in a retrospective manner, this being a prequel, maintained authenticity of the time it was written and complimented the original novel and original journal entries and letters perfectly. I loved the language, expression, and descriptions used, being from the 19th century timeframe, which showcased both the talents of the authors as writers and the essence of classic gothic literature. The characters, both protagonists and antagonists alike, had individual qualities with depth, passion, and a moral code to each their own that shed light into the driving theme of vampirism and offered an understanding of all its attributes and rationales. As far as the plot itself, it was a real page-turner and I thoroughly enjoyed the way it was organized chronologically as it unfolded into a deeper interconnection of subplots. The shaping of the story was compelling as was the climax and epilogue. It followed a gripping timeline of events that captured the themes, imagination, drama, and emotion of the original Dracula novel, in addition to having a complete set of characteristics for a stand alone novel in its own right as well.

Unfortunately I have been unable to download this book. Therefore, I am unable to review it. I had 2 other books to read and review in this same time period and both downloaded without issue. Several attempts with this one and it just isn't happening.

A delightful story of the early years of Bram Stoker with a hint at the muse that inspired his Epic tale.

This novel was co-written by a descendant of Bram Stoker who based this book on historical and genealogical research that he reveals tantalizingly little about in the Epilogue, but more on that later. Dracul is a fictionalized retelling of a period of Bram Stoker's life from his youth, up until his college years. Other historical figures include: his siblings, Mathilda and Thornley, plus Thornley's wife, and Bram's childhood nanny, Ellen Crone, who plays the part of the antagonist. At 500 pages long, it takes some patience and dedication for this book to become interesting since it begins with the scattered letters and diary entries of the Stoker siblings; written in old-fashioned language that beats about the bush and is not quick to deliver on the drama. At this point, they have never even heard the word "vampire" and what is mysterious to them, is old news to a contemporary reader. If you're reading Dracul, chances are you've also read Dracula and you know that this is what happens there too: the slow gathering of information about these monsters until they eventually arrive at a name. So yeah, it's true to history and all that, but it's not very fun for us if we already know the answer to their nanny's very curious behavior. Interspersed between these entries are ambiguous and way too repetitive events set in the present, where Bram is trapped in a room with a rifle, blessed white roses, a protective paste, and a jillion mirrors and crosses. (In one chapter, I lost count of the times that bits of the paste "crumbled to the ground". We know that Bram is holding up the fort, but why???) HOWEVER, somewhere after the 250-350 page mark, all of this waiting finally pays off. It becomes an entirely different book. The dam of mysteries breaks all at once, and the characters do less wondering and more reacting, until we finally reach the present and the language switches to third-person. By the end, Dracul delivers the strong drama and emotions that 21st century readers are probably craving in a vampire novel. I did feel like all of that laboring through the boring bits paid off in the end, but I some readers may not share that opinion. The Epilogue includes scans of Bram Stoker's original notes for Dracula, and a curious anecdote about the original novel's publication history. There's a lot of fun trivia about questions you may have been asking yourself throughout the text, but Dacre Stoker also teases you with more mysteries to wonder about and gather your own conclusions from. (I was super intrigued and a tad frustrated by this! I want to know more!!) Overall I did enjoy this book, it made me gasp in shock and recoil in disgust more than once. I would recommend it to heartfelt fans of the genre or original book, to those curious enough about the historical bits and mysteries, and to someone looking for a horror book that isn't all heart-pounding thrills all the time. It is a well-written book but it really takes a long time for it to enthrall you.

I’m afraid I didn’t enjoy this as much as I did Dracula. Although I liked the writing style of Dracul the story felt dragged out to me. The end of the book did more quickly than the rest and was the most enjoyable part.

Dracula is an entertaining and classic novel within the literary canon, but the inspiration behind the story begs for readers to speculate upon Dracula's origin and Bram's beliefs, which is explored in the prequel Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker.  Suffering throughout childhood as an ill, bedridden boy, Bram Stoker's primary comfort came from the young, and slightly odd, Ellen Crone, who joined the Stoker family as a nanny. As a string of unusual deaths take place in their village, Bram and his sister Matilda take an interest in uncovering more, especially after Ellen mysteriously and suddenly leaves their family. Twenty-one year old Bram frantically makes notes in his journal of the incredible events that have taken place throughout his life and are currently taking place as he simultaneously defends himself and an implausible inhabitant of an abandoned castle tower. In uncovering the truth behind Bram's sudden recovery during childhood and Ellen's obscured, mysterious past, the adult Stoker children inadvertently find themselves in the cross-hairs of a long-ranging battle of wills and desire.  With mysteries that unravel slowly despite a feeling of consistent action as the perspectives and text format shift, Dracul is a deceptively quick and thoroughly entertaining read; this novel comprised of journal entries and letters sheds a potential light on the inspiration for Stoker's classic and haunting novel through casting Bram in the central role of odd circumstances similar to those of his world-famous tale. With beautiful writing that easily evokes the standard of gothic writing of the era in which its set, the story captivates with its eerie and mysterious elements and the characters are (mostly) well-developed through their actions, thoughts, and interactions with other characters. The author's note at the end is incredibly informative and provides new insight for readers into the history behind Dracula's publication.  Overall, I'd give it a 4 out of 5 stars.

There were a lot of things I absolutely loved about this book. It stays true to the tone and style of the original classic, with a rich atmosphere and historical background. Though the mystery unfolds slowly through the journal entries and letters of different characters, the authors use the novel’s structure to increase both tension and suspense so it feels like a much faster paced story. It opens with an utterly heart-pounding scene in the present before flashing back to the past, and these alternating sections work well to continually raise the stakes and maintain narrative impulsion. I liked the characters and their interactions. Bram’s relationships with his siblings are complicated but caring in ways that feel totally genuine. His sister Matilda is an artist and an independent, strong-willed woman while his brother Thornley, a doctor at a mental hospital, has such a tragic story that he could justify his own book. I loved seeing them work together. My only (very minor) quibble was with the development of Ellen’s character. I don’t want to give away any spoilers so I’ll just say there were elements in the middle of the book that felt too rushed or too vague, and I was mildly disappointed with some missed opportunities. But there is a mythic underpinning to a major plot point that absolutely delighted my passion for ancient history. I thoroughly enjoyed this story – it reads like a classic, with moments of startling brilliance and striking imagery. It’s rich and deep and dark, with a sense of both timeless horror and hurtling suspense. It’s rare for me to find a prequel/sequel to a classic that does the original any justice, but this one succeeds marvelously. I read DRACULA every few years and will definitely add this one to my tradition.

The original Dracula by Bram Stoker scared the living daylights out of me when I read it 50-some years ago. I had nightmares for a week. Sad to say but this one mostly bored me for the first 350 pages and then it did get more exciting but not enough.

 


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