You’ll want to read ‘Dracul’ with the lights on

It was just a little scratch.

You wouldn’t have even noticed it, except for the blood — and there was a lot of that. A surprising amount, in fact, for such a small scuff on the side of your wrist, the end of your finger, the top of your thigh, or, as in the new novel, “Dracul” by Dacre Stoker & J.D. Barker, your neck.

He could hear the thing breathing.

It was a raspy sound, half-howl, part-groan, and Bram Stoker was running out of items he could bless to keep the creature from the room where he sat. He watched the door, fearing he would lose the battle before daybreak.

As he waited, Stoker remembered…

He’d been born a sickly child and had been confined to his bed in an attic room for much of his first decade of life. It was a time of famine in Dublin and he might’ve even died were it not for his father’s job, which allowed for care, a decent home, ample food and a governess for the Stoker children.

Nanny Ellen Crone was stern, but loving, and the children adored her though she came and went as she pleased, which vexed Stoker’s mother. As Stoker remembered, Nanny Ellen saved his life during a particularly bad bout with his illness, but he couldn’t exactly recall how she’d done it. Not long after that, and a childishly impulsive chase through a bog (or was it a nightmare?), Ellen disappeared.

Didn’t she? Many years later, Stoker’s sister thought she saw Ellen in Paris . His oldest brother thought he’d seen her in Clontarf. It was her but not her, looking as though she was still a girl.

Ellen would have been middle-aged by then, so how could that be? And why did Stoker still have wounds on his wrist that tormented him when he thought of her and the night she saved his life?

He thought about those things, as a beast or wraith or something scratched at his door.

Before you crack the cover of “Dracul,” make sure you have enough light bulbs. You’re going to want to use them to make your house nice and bright and safe because this may not be the most innovative premise for a novel, but it’s one of the scariest.

Gone from the classic tale is its original sense of distance; here, authors Dacre Stoker (a great-grandnephew of the real Bram) and J.D. Barker put Bram Stoker directly into a tale that dives, neck-first, into horror with hinted end-notes of truth. That’s excellent and it ratchets up the fright-factor, though it’s tempered when we’re asked to believe Stoker as a 7 year old is more intelligent and articulate than any mid-19th century adult might be.

But nevermind. Stay, as this gothic novel with undertones of modernism gently draws you into a snarling sense of doom until you’re fully snared in a lock the doors, turn on the lights scare session. Stay, as you’ll race read to get past the goosebumpiest fright, heart galloping, hoping that the locks hold.

Stay, as “Dracul” leaves you scratching for air.

More in Life

For whodunit lovers, this short story is a gleefully-dark delight

Growing older is a very good thing. First of all, there’s a… Continue reading

Search no more, you’ll want to read ‘Hero Dogs’

You felt like such a loser. It was a feeling that didn’t… Continue reading

Acclaimed actor stars in ‘An Evening with C.S. Lewis’ at PAEC

David Payne plays Lewis in March 28 performance.

Whether you like mystery or humor, this book has it for you

You didn’t recognize the number. So you didn’t answer the phone. That’s… Continue reading

A book full of heart-pounding adventure, bravery, thrills and heroics

You never wanted to get caught. Wasn’t that the point of playing… Continue reading

PSE teams up with Seattle artist to unveil new artwork in Federal Way

Artwork part of PSE’s project to save customers money by reducing graffiti clean-up costs.

You won’t be able to let ‘Maid’ go

That thing? You’re ready to let it go. It sparks joy, but… Continue reading

‘Talk to Me’ draws from real life

The view from above was stunning. The cliché says that people look… Continue reading

You’ll want to hang tight when reading ‘The New Iberia Blues’

Your hand is deep in a bucket of crunchy goodness. Without popcorn,… Continue reading

This book is loaded with both controversy and solutions

First shift begins in early morning. You hit work then, and run… Continue reading