A Thousand Steps

A Thousand Steps
A Thousand Steps by T. Jefferson Parker

Friday, October 22, 2021

FLASHBACK FRIDAY- Dracul - by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker - Feature and Review


The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a riveting novel of gothic suspense 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.



DraculDracul by Dacre Stoker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker is a 2018 Putman publication.

When the very first early reviews for this book started popping up on Goodreads and other book sites, I scrolled right on past it, not even giving it a cursory glance. Of all the genres to choose from, horror is at the bottom of my list, and has been for several decades, with the exceptions of ghost stories or the classics, like Dracula- an all -time favorite, and like many other people, I do have a weakness for Stephen King- although I rarely succumb to temptation.

The title of the book, however, did make me curious. Because if it’s not a ghost story, then I might consider a vampire novel- if the vampire doesn’t sparkle. However, I still wasn’t tempted enough to click on the title for more information. In the meantime, I discovered J.D. Barker and was very impressed by his writing. I mean really, really impressed.

After Dracul was officially published I noticed the book was generating a little buzz. It was nearing Halloween and I was on the hunt for a good creepy tale, so I after months of avoiding the book, I clicked on the title for more information. I could have kicked myself for letting it slip by me.

I only recently realized Dacre Stocker had written a sequel to Dracula. I have not read that one, but will have to check it out someday. If someone is going to write prequels or sequels to such an enduring classic, it is only fitting that the honor should go to a descendant of the author. I also felt relieved by that idea, since I felt that surely Dacre would do it more justice. But it was the second author’s name that popped out at me. J.D. Barker!! THE J.D. Barker? Yes, the author I had raved and ranted about to everyone who would listen, co-authored this book!!

But, still… A Prequel to one of the best horror novels ever? Well, the ratings very favorable, so I decided to throw caution to wind and take the plunge. Besides, who could resist buying a ticket for a J.D. Barker show?

However, because I didn’t bother with it sooner, I had to get into a long, long, long, long line at the library, and it was well past Halloween before I finally got my greedy little hands on a copy.
Was it worth the wait?


So, there are no vampires in Transylvania? No Count Dracula?

Fictions, my friend. The vulgar fictions of a demented Irishman.
– Daniel Malloy and Louis- Interview with the Vampire- by Anne Rice

Well, I wouldn’t be so sure of that, Louis-

Bram Stoker is the main protagonist in this story. It is really his tale to tell, but his siblings are also very involved and are an intricate part of the story. In Bram’s early life, he is confined to his room, weak and sickly and occasionally near death. He is administered to and care for by his beloved Nanna, who keeps him alive through questionable and unusual means. As Bram matures and grows out of his childhood maladies, he and his siblings begin to piece together a terribly troubling and sinister mystery, involving the puzzling deaths of people in a neighboring town, and the possibility they are more involved than they would like to admit. Their own family, perhaps grateful, but also complicit, lived with a certain amount of denial for a long time.

The siblings unravel a lurid and chilling tale, one that pits good against evil, with all those psychological shades of gray, that occasionally leaves the reader with a feeling of understanding in some places, and occasionally, sympathy, even where none should seep through. Yet, the reader is not the only one tempted in this way. The Stoker’s are also accepting of certain truths and make their own compromises.

However, there is still a force out there- a formidable opponent – one Bram must eventually face-

And so, it begins…

Wow, the eerie suggestion that Bram’s masterpiece was not all the ‘vulgar fictions of a demented Irishman’ is enough to leave one sleeping with a cross under your pillow, and maybe a little garlic over your door for good measure.

Just in case…

This book is very creepy and atmospheric. However, it is mostly a historical mystery, albeit a paranormal one. It is the solving of a series of crimes, and the personal ramifications the truth reveals. It does lose much of its initial momentum, however, settling down into a seemingly less eventful, and much slower rhythm. But, upon reflection, this was most likely by design, and was perhaps necessary.

But overall, this is a fascinating piece of fiction. The authors did a very good job with the material they were given exclusive access to, and in weaving such a believable, and quite unsettling, precursor to ‘Dracula’.

The book was worth the wait- most definitely. Although, I didn’t get to read it during October, it is a perfect book to read on any long, dark winter night.

Sweet dreams…





Dacre Stoker, a Canadian citizen and resident of the U.S., is the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker. He is also the godson of H.G. Dacre Stoker, the commander of the AE2 submarine, whose tactics were instrumental in Gallipoli in World War I.

Dacre, who now calls Aiken, South Carolina home, was a member of the Canadian Men's Modern Pentathlon Team, Senior World Championships in 1979 and coach of the Canadian Men's Modern Pentathlon Olympic Team, Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Dacre is married to Jenne Stoker and is the father of two children. He is the Executive Director of the Aiken Land Conservancy.

J.D. BARKER is the internationally best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, and winner of the New Apple Medalist Award. His work has been compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. His 4MK Thrillers, The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth to Die, were released in June 2017 and June 2018 respectively. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to Dracula due out in fall 2018. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, daughter, Ember, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.

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