I read Dracula quite a few years ago, nearly ten years ago. Back when I was still in school, and the future seemed so bright. I loved the book. I thought it was scary, different from what I imagined and full of suspense. I’ll stand by my claim that those first three chapters are some of the finest pieces of Gothic Literature ever. The whole idea of isolation in Dracula’s castle captivated me. I later studied the book in sixth form and university and came to understand why the book works so well and why it’s considered a classic, loving it even more.
When I first got my kindle, 2012 (I think), the first thing I did was download everything else that Bram Stoker wrote. It’s free, as it’s all public domain, so why not? I found a short story collection called Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories. I looked into it and found that there was a cut chapter from the original novel, due to length, which was published after Stoker’s death.
Instead of diving straight in I decided to read Jewel of the Seven Stars first as I was interested in reading Stoker’s take on the Mummy horror stories. After reading that, which I also enjoyed, University took over completely and I didn’t really read anything I wanted to for a couple of years.
Last week I was going through my kindle purchases and downloaded everything I’ve never finished and thought I would start with Dracula’s Guest as it’s a short story collection and wouldn’t take my time. It’s taken me a fair few years to get there, but I’ve finally read the missing part of Dracula.
It’s an odd piece of writing. It doesn’t really stand by itself, without the connections to Dracula the story would probably have been completely forgotten by now. Even as part of Dracula it doesn’t really make sense. It doesn’t feel like the rest of the novel, it’s written in the first person, and it’s unclear if it’s part of Jonathan Harker’s journal or just a simple first person narrative. I think it’s safe to assume that it slots into the early chapters of the novel and therefore is from Harker’s journal, but it doesn’t quite feel like it belongs there. I imagine it’s probably from an early draft of the novel. It simply doesn’t fit the tone or the style of the original.
The story itself follows an unnamed protagonist, presumably Harker, who on Walpurgis Night, finds himself in an old cemetery, and has to take shelter from a storm in a tomb. Not much happens. The protagonist doesn’t listen to the warnings from the locals and goes off by himself anyway and ends up in the cemetery during a horrific thunderstorm. A wolf keeps him safe while people are out looking for him. I won’t spoil the whole story, because if you are a fan of Dracula it’s more than worth reading.
There are a few moments that make more sense if read with the novel in mind. Dracula can turn into a wolf or dog, as he does on the ship when it arrives at Whitby. It makes sense that the wolf in this story is also Dracula, showing as much affection towards Harker as he does in the main story.
Overall, while by itself Dracula’s Guest isn’t a vital read, it’s still more than worth a look if you are a fan of the novel. It isn’t remarkable, but it’s nice to be able to read more of Harker’s tale even if it doesn’t fit as perfectly into the novel as I would have liked. It’s still well written has some good suspense filled moments and kept me entertained. It’s nice to return to this book in a fresh way, and I’ve re-downloaded Dracula to read that once more soon.
Thanks for reading,
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