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

The Apollo 11 Descent Module and astronaut foot trails are visible in the center of this LRO photo. NASA/GSFC/Arizona State University
New photo exhibit exposes alien tracks on the moon

Opening Dec. 20, Lunar Focus offers recent images of Apollo landing sites from the observations of NASA Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter

Hillsong United coming to Kent’s ShoWare Center May 30

Christian worship band from Australia

Prepare to dive into the inner workings of a library

The possibilities seem endless. Row upon row of books awaits you, each… Continue reading

‘Bah! Humbug!’ Scrooge comes to local stage

The familiar words uttered by Ebenezer Scrooge have a spirited ring to… Continue reading

Kent Library programming | KCLS | December

Libraries Kent Public Library: 212 2nd Avenue N., Kent. 253-859-3330. Hours: 10… Continue reading

Kent Arts Commission seeks applicants to fill two vacancies

Board advises City Council about arts programs

Magical Strings will perform at 3 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 2 at the Kent-Meridian Performing Arts Center. COURTESY PHOTO
Magical Strings to perform in Kent on Dec. 2

Group celebrates 40 years of annual Celtic Yuletide Concerts

Kent man wins State Make It With Wool contest

John Yingling, of Kent, was named State Alternate Adult Winner at the… Continue reading

Winterfest to light up Kent Town Square Plaza on Saturday, Dec. 1

Festivites include music, visit from Santa and Christmas tree lighting ceremony