Dracula – The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

Posted on 16 July 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews, Guest Blogger | Tags: , , |

Here’s an interesting thought. I handed my copy of this book to my 22 year old nephew and asked him to write a review of it. He emailed to me today and so I get to share it with you. I do have to warn you he’s toned it down a bit, I can’t share with you what he really said to me.

I read Dacre Stoker’s book and after finishing, my first thoughts were “What a waste of time.” By itself it’s fairly good, well written, with the characters well defined. However as a sequel to Dracula, it lacked a certain something, and followed the really annoying modern trend of having no absolute Evil, but rather misunderstood beings fighting another being that was evil, yes, but not sheer unadulterated Badness.

If this had been a stand alone novel, I would have liked it, but it’s not. It was a disappointment, and I spent a lot of the time reading it wishing I could shout at either the characters or the author.

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Dracula, Squid Ink style

Posted on 15 July 2010. Filed under: Squid Ink | Tags: , , |

There have been many books and movies written about Dracula, but the best books are the original which I’ve scribbled a few words here about and Dracula – The Un-Dead written by a descendent of Bram Stoker, you can find the few words I’ve written here. Here is the Squid Ink version.

Squid Ink - Dracula

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The Enemy – Charlie Higson

Posted on 17 May 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , |

Before I head into writing a few words about this book I feel you deserve to know why I haven’t been writing much lately. I’m having the odd trouble with my website and have been spending a lot of time trying to fix it up behind the scenes to ensure customers don’t have any problems with it. Things are progressing well, although somewhat more slowly than I’d expected. I hope to have everything right by this weekend, but until then my writing might suffer. I’m trying to ensure I spend enough time on Twitter and Facebook but this is at the expense of some other forums. Just before this happened I did manage to sign up as a Supporting Member of AussieCon4, I hope to be able to pay the full amount by July as I’d really like to attend. There’s exciting things happening in the Australian science fiction and fantasy writers world and I’m going to be on the periphery of it. I’ll give you more information in due course. Heading into the book now, promise.

This is one of those books I got through Twitter. Penguin were good enough to send it to me when I pointed out a typo in their online book extract during a competition. This book is set in post-apocalyptic London. The premise of the story is that every person over the age of 14 has been struck down with a deadly disease. The lucky ones die quickly, the unlucky live on with few brains just wanting to eat meat, they don’t discriminate; dogs and children are both on the menu. We don’t know what caused the disease and we don’t know what happens when people turn 14. This story shows us some of the children one year after the disease first strikes. We see it from several points of view, kids in charge, kids not in charge, boys and girls. We see what sort of person they need to lead them now and what qualities they must have in order to get their charges through this dreadful time. This is mostly from the point of view of a group of 50-60 kids who have holed up in a place called Waitrose only venturing out to find food. One day a boy comes in and says there is a group of kids building a better life in Buckingham Palace. So, off they go to Buckingham Palace with their weapons. Yes, they do make it there but it’s not the end of the story.

I have so many questions about this book and I don’t know where to start. Many of them won’t ever be answered as the story couldn’t ever go there but some of them will most likely be answered in sequels. I can’t talk knowledgably about the sequels as I can’t find anything on the web and the only mention is in the back of the book. The Enemy Is Waiting is due to come out some time this year and I will be waiting with bated breath for it as I need some answers.

Charlie Higson is a talented writer who knows how to keep the tension well and truly tight. I’m not really a reader of horror books, I have read some in my time, classics such as Dracula and the first official sequel, Dracula the Undead, some Stephen King and various other horror authors so I do have some idea of what makes a good horror book. Yes, I even saw Alien, but that was in a movie double immediately following a zombie movie so I actually laughed during Alien as it just wasn’t scary in comparison to the zombies. The Enemy lays it on the line, it tells you exactly what to be scared of and then details it again and again and again without ever letting go. The characters are believable and the situations seem credible. We are told of what happened at the beginning of the disease and it harked back to Lord of the Flies (a terrifying book) but also gives us hope by telling us that the behaviour changed when the adults started killing the kids.

Oh, and that typo? It’s not in the book.

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Dracula – The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt

Posted on 22 March 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , |

Today I finished reading a book, yes, it’s a cause for celebration for some people. It’s certainly a cause for celebration for me as I should soon get some decent sleep. I really shouldn’t read horror as it gives me rather strange dreams. Dracula – The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt is the first official sequel to Dracula by Bram Stoker. It is written by Dacre Stoker, the great grandnephew of Bram Stoker, and Ian Holt, the biggest Dracula fan in the world. I previously read and then scribbled a few things about Bram Stoker’s book and now it is time to write a few words about both books.

Dracula – The Un-Dead is a great book. It shows how brilliant Bram Stoker’s original book was while filling in some gaps and dealing with the inconsistencies created by Bram Stoker’s book and other Dracula books, movies and plays, it also makes it seem very real by bringing Bram Stoker, himself, into the story as well as various historical events and people. It highlights the dramatic tendencies Bram had and also how brilliant he was with keeping the tension going right through to the end. In Dracula – The Un-Dead the tension was still going right to the final paragraph and we’re left on tenterhooks even though we know what will happen as it’s a very historical event.

The only problem I have with it is the language. Bram Stoker’s book was set in about 1893 and the language showed that, it was rather stilted without slang and was what most other books set in that era have been. Dacre and Ian, on the other hand, have written in the style of today, despite the book being set in 1912. I’m not saying there’s words like lol or rofl, which there very well could be as it was only published in 2009, but it was a simpler style much more in keeping with books written today.

So, all you horror fans, run to your nearest store and buy it, make sure you have Dracula as well and read them back to back. If your shop doesn’t have it make sure they order it in from Harper Collins. They are both must read books for horror fans.

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Dracula – Bram Stoker

Posted on 3 March 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , |

I can’t actually write a review of Dracula, that’d be sacrilegious so I’m just going to tell you why I had to read it now and then ramble on about it a bit.

Last year I was very excited to win a competition on Twitter. The prize was Dracula The Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker. Yes, Dacre is a descendent of Bram, in fact, he’s a great nephew and this book is the sequel. It’s a bit silly to read the sequel without having read the original so when DD borrowed Dracula from the library I took the opportunity of reading it also.

I suspect I’ve read it before as some parts of it were rather familiar but the bulk of it wasn’t. I do recall reading a short story with some similarities fairly recently and it’d be nice to be able to remember the name of this story so I could tell you but I generally don’t pay much attention to the names of short stories. The similarity was in the location of the house and also in dealing with a dead person so they would stop haunting the family, it also felt very much like Dracula in the writing style.

There were several bits that really annoyed me about Dracula. The leading characters were all sweetness and light. Nothing was too hard for them and they were always absolutely perfectly behaved in thought, word and deed. I don’t mind the odd character like that but it’s impossible for everyone to be like that. I found the focus on the protection provided by the Cross to be rather annoying, I do understand that Christianity was the most prominent religion at the time of writing and that’s why that particular symbol was used but as a non-Christian I find it annoying…it also annoys me in Buffy. I did like Dracula’s castle, though.

Dracula in the book is rather different to modern perceptions of vampires. Just look at Buffy, for example. Vampires in Buffy can’t go out in daylight and can’t change their shape. Also, in Buffy, the vampires kill immediately with the first bite while Dracula takes his time to kill over several days, sucking a little blood at a time and stretching tension just so much without actually breaking it.

At this point I could do something really silly and mention George Hamilton in Love at First Bite, a movie screened in 1979 which really has very little similarity to Stoker’s Dracula but is fun and George Hamilton was very good looking (still is, to be honest). We were discussing this the other night over dinner and someone suggested that Bram Stoker had not done enough research, completely missing out Buffy, Bela Lugosi’s Dracula and Twilight.

I’m going to stop at this point before I get myself into too much trouble.

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The Chrysalids – John Wyndham

Posted on 11 January 2010. Filed under: Book Reviews | Tags: , , , |

A couple of days ago I could be seen on Twitter complaining about reading a book instead of listing books on the website. I was complaining because reading takes more time than listing and I’d really like to get back to my previous numbers of 1,500 books on the website as opposed to the just under 400 I have today. As it turned out it was a good thing I opened this book.

Many years ago when I was a real teenager I read a book and the ideas in it captivated me so totally I still remember them very vividly today. The images I kept with me all these years were those of telepathy and people (some adults and some children) being pursued because they were telepathic and therefore not of the norm. They included being captured by something that restricted ones movement and they included something that moved like an aeroplane. There are many other images there but those are the main ones. It was a wonderful story and I’d quite forgotten what it was called and who it was by. It’s a pity I never mentioned it to anyone otherwise someone in my house would have pointed me directly to the book on my shelf and I wouldn’t have been tortured by not being able to reread it.

John Wyndham was the pen name used by the often post-apocalyptic English science fiction writer John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris (10 July 1903 – 11 March 1969). Thank you to Wikipedia for this information. He was a really good writer with fabulous ideas. I read many of his novels and some of his short stories as a child and was totally captivated by them, they have remained in my memory banks since then. It’s been helped somewhat by the movies they’ve made of books such as The Midwich Cuckoos released as The Village of the Damned in 1960, Children of the Damned in 1964 and a remake of The Village of the Damned in 1995; or The Day of the Triffids released in 1963 which was remade into a series in 1981. I’ve only seen the earliest releases but they’ve stayed with me forever. They’re nominally science fiction but there’s a great deal of horror in there as well so they’d suit both types of readers.

The Chrysalids is post apocalypse and having been written in 1955 during the cold war was probably based on what might happen following several nuclear attacks. There is evidence here as Wyndham refers to the Badlands several times and also mentions that there are bad years with crops and livestock possibly due to winds coming from the Badlands. There has been a resurgence of very religious groups who have banded together to stamp out genetic mutations. The government controls this and issues certificates of normality via inspectors living in the area. Our hero, David Strorm, is telepathic and survives through to the age of 20 through natural caution, being able to ‘discuss’ the problems telepathically with others and a sympathetic uncle who cautioned them to keep quiet about it. Finally, his much younger sister, Petra, discovers her natural telepathic talent and life in their own homes becomes fraught with danger. They run, along with a cousin, Rosalind, who is also telepathic and are finally saved by other telepaths from Zealand.

The characters are very well drawn and the book is in the first person so I always felt I was David, despite being the wrong gender. The Religious themes are very well put together and I could see this might actually have happened if there had been a nuclear war.

It was a thrilling tale and I had so much trouble putting down. While I’m upset to have been interrupted in my listing I’m also very excited to have found this story after so many years. It’s one I recommend wholeheartedly, just like anything written by John Wyndham.

Warnings:

Casual mentions of furtive sex
Death of humans and animals
Very heavy Religious themes

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