Funny thing, to say “Dracula never leaves my side“, but it’s quite accurate, trust me. Pretty much, whenever I reach an edge in my life or a crossroad, which is just as devastating sometimes, I end up with a book on Dracula in my lap. It happened just enough times for me to take it into consideration and begin collecting books on him. And I don’t speak of Dracula the Vampire, tho that one’s good too, but most of all, I speak of Vlad the Impaler, Draculea.
Some books I’ve gotten before I had to decide which path to take in the Crossroad of Life (sadly, no demon to make a deal with, but hey… Maybe I’m wrong, now that I think of it…), but right on the decision making time – I’d remember an important thing from the previous book. Bear with me, this’ll be a long tale to spin.
I believe the first book purely dedicated to the man as half-fiction that I laid my hands on (beside little things, lets just count the stuff that has over a 100 pages, okay?) was Elizabeth Kostova “The Historian”. Funny, how in our language this title took upon a female form, while within the book, the only person to claim the title is a man. If we could call him a man still. Dracula, in this book, is sought and seeked by a young missy, daughter of a historian. She follows her father’s footsteps, who followed Dracula’s coffin, so to say. Until they bumped into each other. It appeared there that Dracula finds it amusing how people write books about him and collects them, much as I do now. It’s an interesting book, more so because it describes wonderful and inspiring things one would like to follow as the characters did. To add to that it contains some true facts on Vlad, tho he’s constantly called “Vlad Tepes” and “Dracula” is only said to be a “nickname” which means “Son of the Dragon / Son of the Devil”. Which is a bit redundant when you think on it, for Tepes (or Tsepesh) means “Impaler”, literally. And Dracul was his father’s, Vlad II Dracul name. They, as son’s of the Dragons became “Draculea” (book says: Draculya), and that -ea means they’re a son of the <word before -ea>. Author dug so deep, and yet not deep enough to figure his name. It’s just that strange to me. But anyways, how did this book help me? I don’t remember when or how I bought it, but I enjoyed the size of it, as I have a hard time to put the book away. But I remember the firm need to make a decision in my life – what would I want and COULD be (for I’d absolutely like to be an astronaut, but with my data that won’t happen anytime soon. Unless science is kind and quick…). I tried to shuffle things in my head, to rely on this one thing I could do with love – read. And so it struck me. Historian. Later in life it evolved and now I am a freelance translator, for history is all written and the more I read – the happier I am, even if not all things I receive in my hands are history.
The next book is by far, the most important and valued by me no matter the help “The Historian” provided me with. It’s the C.C. Humphreys “Vlad: The Last Confession”. It’s a historical romance with no vampires in it, yet when you look upon that boy who broke once and made the name “Prince Impaler” cause shudder in every person with consciousness unclean, and then the man who broke the second time and silently finish what had to be finished exactly the way it should have been… Pretty much, it’s Vlad’s story told by three people who followed him in life. Remember, that history is written by victors, so many things are very loosely based on any documents remaining. He was given to Ottoman together with his brother, Radu the Fair to be political prisoners and a living promise that their father will not act against the Sultain. Thing is (was), their older brother, Mircea, wasn’t so sure it wasn’t worth it. In the end, Vlad’s view to the world and enemy shifted, bit by bit. And if you ever saw a stack of books slowly shift sideways – you know that there comes a time when it all falls down and turns into a chaos. Vlad was sent to Tokat, a known school and prison of Torturers and Tortured. Simple – inflict or have inflicted. And they know how to cause you pain for you to start fearing any more of it. They’ll remind you hour after hours – you will not die. You will suffer, and suffer and suffer more. This was the first. Of the second I will not speak, for it gets amazing soon after. So much, in fact, that I couldn’t understand why I didn’t read it sooner.
I bought it when I felt crushed and saw no reason to go on further. I was in a mess which wasn’t even mine, yet had to either help fix it, or fall with it. I bought it with many other books, but it was the only book I truly wanted and continued thinking of it. Maybe that was the reason I didn’t read it so long. For two years, I think, I just held it, fearing that if I start – it will end. And it did, but so well that I am pleased and most happy with it. Mr. Humphreys, if this ever reaches your eyes – know that not only Your work is loved – it most likely saved a person.
P.S. – it was the first time for me in the UK and as you’ll later see, it’s from there where Dracula reaches me the most often or with most impact.
Inspired by the CC.H. book as much as I was, finally I came upon Bram Stoker “Dracula”. it was then that I figured that in our library reside morons who don’t even know the classics. One woman comes to work slightly drunk now and again, the other can’t point you to the book, the third one will tell you it’s THE book when you KNOW it’s not the book. So first I’ve read “The Guest of Dracula”, and just then received the Dracula. Right now I own three versions, two Lithuanian, first edition and second re-print, and an English one. On this one we shall speak now. Chronologically it’s incorrect to be talking of it now, but as I began and don’t feel like talking on same book twice, I shall speak of it anyways. Pretty much, first one I received when I found it by accident myself in the same named library where no one knew what this book even is, apparently. I found it, and few weeks later – bought my own copy of it. Few months later, a friend and a vampirologist sold me her second print copy, as she was about to move to the city of vampires – New Orleans, Louisiana. Third copy, the English one, I tried obtaining when I was second time in UK. This time I felt a bit better, but I was determined to get my share of Vlad Dracula this time, for I already heard those bells toll. Thing is – I didn’t find one. I went to second-hand book store, where my not-so-smart brain told me to look in first and they didn’t have one. I bought Frankenstein tho. And months later, sister bought me an AMAZING copy. And here’s why I think that one was meant for me too, sorta – another reach out towards me: me and sister… Well, we’re not friends. We get along just about enough to bury the war axe when she’s not doing something stupid and she does care for me, but then she does something stupid and I can’t contain the anger and spill it drowning everything like the poor Pompeii. She told me right away that she has Dracula for me, and as we were on good terms – I was happy. Even happier when she said that the cover is strange and scared her shitless when she saw it suddenly reflect a ray of light in the dark… I’m glad the Prince doesn’t like her much either. (And, again, it reached me from UK)
Another book that got into my hands from UK was Kim Newman “Anno Dracula”. Funny thing, how I seeked terribly and only chance dropped it into my hands. As if there was only one purpose for the lad who was with me there, only one reason to be – to go on and find me a Dracula’s book. Next two I bought myself. Second one is “Bloody Red Baron” and the third “Dracula Cha Cha Cha“. Fourth is “Johnny Alucard“, but at the very moment I don’t feel like having it, for reasons that happen in third book. Never the less – these books are amazing. First of all, they’re with this hard Steampunk vibe. Second – it contains so many other characters from real life that I was mesmerized. Third – Dracula introduced me to E.A. Poe and I regret NOTHING. And mr. Poe in return drew the most beautiful picture of Dracula. These books opened a whole new doors for me in literature and remembering another book I’ll tell you more of further on, you could say this one who never leaves me is even attempting to tutor me and educate when it comes to literature. Good, I’ll take it.
These three books are full of mad scientists, vampires on every corner, nobility and royalty from middle-ages and even before that who don’t know what to do with this New World and so on. One thing never changes tho. Vlad Dracula still loves his warfare toys.
The other book was lent to me by the same friend who gave me her copy of Dracula. It was first time I ever read this type of a book. What type? Well, one of those we could call “secret and true journal of Mina Harker“. Syrie James “Dracula, My Love” is the book and out of the two that I’ve read of such books, this one is by far the superior. More or less, it’s Mina telling the story, of how it was and who this “monster” really was. Boo for me – this isn’t Vlad Dracula she speaks of, but I just threw away the name “Nikolay” he gave her, for he’s a bit of a liar when it’s for the sake of keeping somewhat of a peace that would please him better, and decided to forget he claimed not to be Vlad the Impaler. Now, why is this book good and why I consider important as a “reach out”? For Dracula gives one damn good point to Mina there we all, no matter gender, age, nationality, race, religion etc can use. He asked her – why do you care what strangers think of you? You see them once and never again. And you are you forever. Pretty much, he asked her to go take a boat to swim around the lake or river or what it was with him. Naturally, she went all wobbly – no no, what will people think, me, unmarried and without anyone else, going swimming with another man, a stranger to that. He was taken aback by that – the hell? It seemed… Interesting. To wonder of why would one really take it into consideration the opinion of complete strangers who neither know you, nor you them. So I consider this book a win.
Oh, and the story of it, as I said, it’s the Stoker’s Dracula from Mina’s perspective in depth. The journal Stoker put as “her part of the story” is false, so to say. It’s an interesting romance. Even more so as Mina’s child turned out to be very alike this stranger…
And let me right away get to the second this type of the book, a book by Karen Essex “Dracula in Love”. Let me tell you right away, were Dracula here – James, and Mina – Katty – this would be a great, simple supernatural romance book with just about everything in it. But instead our dear author, who claimed it to be nearly supernatural, how she first wrote the book, then checked the facts and found out that few things she made up – actually happened (sadly I am left to wonder a lot which ones), decided to ride the Dracula’s horse (don’t get any funny ideas here) of fame. While in a sense this book is good, as a vampire book that has Dracula in it – it’s very bad it made me think of Twilight. Now, I’m not saying either Dracula or Cullen’s a fairy. I’m saying their relation with them sucks badly. Yet this book is still in my shelf and will go no where from there. Why? Lets return to Historian – it evolved as far as me becoming this freelance translator, and this book, this “Dracula in Love” was my first paycheck as translator purchase. I decided I have to give the toll and I don’t regret it, even if the book is no where near my favorites.
Now, in UK when I was looking for Dracula’s book by Stoker, I didn’t get away empty handed (beside Kim Newman’s “Anno Dracula” and Frankenstein). I found something else, something I didn’t know existed. Later it turned out – I did know, I just forgot completely. It’s the another “sequel of Dracula”, this time claiming the title “official”, for author is somewhat Stoker-related. It’s Dracre Stoker “Dracula: The Un-Dead”. And you know what? I haven’t read it yet. I think I’ll keep it for a little while more, just to have something.
Naturally, these are only the books that are truly on Dracula the Vampire or Vlad the Impaler. I got plenty more that either mention him or quote him as a character or person who was and/or is. Like Victor Pelevin “Empire V” (quoted), or Roderick Gordon and Brian Williams “Tunnels” series where he’s mentioned in one book as a man who existed and fought the same enemy people in those books now have to fight. Or even a couple of Charlaine Harris books on Sookie Stackhouse, last one, where Sookie contemplates being Dracula’s Bride to Eric Northman, and the short-stories collection, where Eric desperately waits Dracula to show up, for his birthday is as revered by vampires there as, say, New Years and Christmas to us, for before Dracula – vampires wore rags and lives in holes underground. But Vlad Draculea was a prince, so there was no question of him sleeping in dirt, when there were soft beds and silks… Or even that one sentence in Mary Crow Dog’s “Lakota Women”, where she claimed that Bavaria sounded to her like some Dracula’s country, for she knew nothing of it. Or Philip K. Dick “A Scanner Darkly” with also but one sentence “counts Draculas are sleeping”. And even Richard Matheson “I am Legend”, that one line where Robert reads “Dracula”. I also own four volumes of Kohta Hirano “Hellsing” (and intend to get the rest), and two volumes of Hideyuki Kikuchi “Vampire Hunter D”. Why all this obsession? Because it helped me when I most needed the help. And taught me those basic things I didn’t know. And so in return I can at least keep track of it all, can’t I?