Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Horror Review - Renfield: Slave of Dracula!

In the spirit of Halloween, this week we highlight a fantastic new twist on one of the seminal works of 19th century gothic horror - Dracula.

With Renfield, Barbara Hambly further explores the tormented story of Dracula's mad minion. Hambly shows the story through the maniac's eyes: his sick obsession with flies and spiders; his connection to the evil Count; the dreams that plague him in the night, and the terrible events that left him raving in the streets of London. Too, we see the man's deepest, most secret motivation - the loving wife and daughter whose whereabouts he must keep from his Master at all costs, even as he falls deeper under the monster's dark power, seeking to make it his own.

As with the original tale, the narrative is a mosaic of disparate pieces - an amalgam of third person prose, journal entries, letters and newspaper clippings. The story of Renfield takes place simultaneously with the events of Dracula, and even includes relevant excerpts from Stoker's novel. Yet Ms. Hambly still manages to create a story that is both original and suspensful: though we know the story of Dracula as deeply as any in the popular mythos, this tale is as terrifying as if it had never been told before. Each character is beholden to his own torment, and Barbara Hambly deftly draws us into their personal horror with a sense of helpless inevitability.

If you are looking for something to bring you into the spirit of the season, this is the book for you.

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