Sunday, October 12, 2008

Review: The Dracula Dossier by James Reese

I confess, when I realized the author of The Dracula Dossier was also the author of The Book of Shadows, I was wary. I never finished The Book of Shadows, because although the story was interesting, I didn’t pick up the book looking for pages and pages on end of nothing but graphic violence included for no apparent reason. I was worried this would be more of the same.

Luckily I was wrong. There was gore in The Dracula Dossier, but only what you would expect from Jack the Ripper. (I may have to revisit The Book of Shadows, maybe there was a point to it.) It seems that things were treated more realistically in The Dracula Dossier, with more of an emphasis on Stoker’s reactions than the murders themselves.

What stands out the most about the book was the extraordinary realism and feel for the time period that comes across in the writing. The details are excellent, and whether the book was based on facts or not, it certainly suspends disbelief. The footnotes usually help with the realistic feeling and provide information that couldn’t be provided convincingly in the epistolary form. They drew a lot of attention to the Dracula references, which was helpful and kept up my interest, but it might have been more exciting if I’d been allowed to draw my own parallels.

The pace does drag some for the first hundred pages, but those Dracula references in the footnotes kept up my interest long enough to get past those pages, to Mr. Stoker’s interview with Mr. Penfold. During that scene the book suddenly transformed into a real thriller, and the rest of the pages flew by. The final fifty pages or so made up an expected but satisfying ending that tied up the loose threads.

I think this book fills a niche, addressing the already much-addressed topics of Jack the Ripper and Dracula from a more historical perspective than I’ve seen before. In the words of Mr. Stoker at the end of the novel, "It is the story of a man who -- though not a hero, per se -- finds himself suffering, nay surviving, heroic circumstances."

Attention: You can go to the publishers' Browse Inside site to see up to 20% of the book's content for free. I actually got an e-mail from the book's publicist! Cool, huh?

Buy The Dracula Dossier

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