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The prequel to one of the most famous horror stories of all time – Bram Stoker’s Dracula – is to be published by Bantam Press, part of Penguin Random House, this October, just in time for Halloween.
It will be written by Stoker’s great grand-nephew Dacre Stoker, with help from co-author JD Barker, whose debut horror novel Forsaken was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award.
Bram Stoker himself plays a part in the new novel. Bantam Press says: “It is 1868, and a 22-year-old Bram Stoker has locked himself inside an abbey’s tower to face off against a vile and ungodly beast. He is armed with mirrors and crucifixes and holy water and a gun – and is kept company by a bottle of plum brandy. His fervent prayer is that he will survive this one night – a night that will prove to be the longest of his life. Desperate to leave a record of what he has witnessed, the young man scribbles out the events that brought him to this point – and tells an extraordinary tale of childhood illness, a mysterious nanny, and stories once thought to be fables now proven true.”
The original Dracula was published in 1897 and has been filmed numerous times, famously with Bela Lugosi and Peter Cushing playing the title role. It gave birth to a whole mythology that entered popular culture – of vampires holding no reflection in mirrors and using garlic to ward them off.
Dacre Stoker wrote a sequel for HarperCollins, Dracula the Un-Dead in 2009. Some uncertainty remains over the manuscript of the original Dracula and whether some pages were missing. At Bantam Press, his editor Simon Taylor, said: “Mystery surrounds the publication of Dracula, that’s what becomes very apparent. This lends itself to picking up a sense of what’s in the shadows, what Dacre Stoker found in his ancestors’ notebooks, the jottings. Bram Stoker was an obsessive note-maker and note-taker and, like many a late Victorian literary gentleman, he was always scribbling ideas and thoughts. In the script of Dracul, which we’re publishing in October, there’s a fascinating author’s note in the back and it’s when you read this that things fall into place.”
Publication comes at a time when, in 2017, the horror genre saw its highest sales in the UK in four years, according to Nielsen BookScan. Industry figures say the boom may be due to the recent success of supernatural screen horror such as Netflix’s Stranger Things, a resurgence in interest in the books of Stephen King and Shirley Jackson and a blurring of genre lines between historical literary fiction and psychological thrillers. Some also wonder whether the genre’s popularity could be a response to current uncertainty over world affairs, or even because it provides a way of exploring sexuality and gender issues in response to the #MeToo movement.
Stoker, who lives in Montreal, Canada, has taught physical education for more than 20 years. Today, as Bram Stoker’s direct descendant he manages the Stoker Estate and travels widely, giving presentations and talks on Dracula, vampires, Bram Stoker and his extraordinary legacy.
And, in case you are wondering, if he stands in front of a mirror, you can see his reflection.