Slave of Dracula
It would seem to be a great idea: re-tell the Dracula story, this time from the perspective of his mysterious fly-eating minion, Renfield. After all, just why is Renfield in the asylum to begin with? And who was he before his illness? What was Renfield's perspective of Dracula?
Author Barbara Hambly begins her tale in the same style as the original novel - giving us journal entries from primary characters (in a few cases, the same or slightly altered versions of the ones from the original 19th Century novel). As the novel begins, she shows some skill in replicating the writing style of Bram Stoker (the original Dracula author).
Unfortunately, Hambly cannot resist changing the original story - which, to me, ruins much of the draw of this book. She gives us a different Dracula, more violent and bestial, and a lot less interesting. Then she adds an unconvincing plot line about Dracula's three brides pursuing him secretly to England (which does make Renfield's life more interesting, though...). And she makes some changes in the way vampirism works...
The unfortunate result is that Dracula becomes a secondary, almost boring character, as the plot builds up to its twin revelations: What awful thing did Renfield do to get committed? And does he get his wish to become a vampire?
I started the novel with high expectations, enjoyed the early chapters, and then it felt like something fell out of the story, and it became long and boring and slow. The author, in her efforts to give us a good story about Renfield, unfortunately guts the Dracula story of much that made it interesting in the first place.
Wargamers might want to mine this novel for alternate background information to the traditional Dracula story - this material might work better in a gaming setting than as a novel.
I really disliked this novel, and cannot recommend it otherwise.
Reviewed by Editor in Chief Bill .