Book Review: Dracula’s Child by J.S. Barnes

Summary:

Dracula returns…

It has been some years since Jonathan and Mina Harker survived their ordeal in Transylvania and, vanquishing Count Dracula, returned to England to try and live ordinary lives. But shadows linger long in this world of blood feud and superstition – and, the older their son Quincy gets, the deeper the shadows that lengthen at the heart of the Harkers’ marriage. Jonathan has turned back to drink; Mina finds herself isolated inside the confines of her own family; Quincy himself struggles to live up to a family of such high renown. And when a gathering of old friends leads to unexpected tragedy, the very particular wounds in the heart of the Harkers’ marriage are about to be exposed…

There is darkness both within the marriage and without – for, while Jonathan and Mina wrestle with the right way to raise a child while still recovering from the trauma of their past lives, new evil is arising on the Continent. A naturalist is bringing a new species of bat back to London; two English gentlemen, on their separate tours of the continent, find a strange quixotic love for each other, and stumble into a calamity far worse than either has imagined; and the vestiges of something thought long-ago forgotten is, finally, beginning to stir…

Goodreads

Thanks much to the publisher for providing a copy of this for review purposes. This did not affect the content of my review in any way.

Thoughts:

The first thing that struck me about this book was the prose and style which immediately took me back twenty-five years to the first time I read Dracula. If you’re a fan of the original then you might enjoy this book for it’s faithfulness to that text in and of itself. Like Dracula, this is an epistolary novel and it’s through letters, journal entries, newspaper articles and other documents that the story is pieced together. Through that we get several POV characters, some of them very familiar and some of them new creations.

I have to say that for me the characters were one of the weak points. The style of writing felt very similar no matter who was penning the journal entry or article. I feel as if in some ways there was little to differentiate their voices other than their circumstances at any present time. The big exception being of Maurice Hallam, who always had his own flair and very much is own voice. The rest of the characters blended together so well that sometimes I didn’t realize whose journal it was or whose letter until some context was provided (I’ll admit I am not great at remembering the chapter headings which actually provides that information). But Mina felt much the same as Jonathan as Jack as Arthur Goldaming etc etc. But really all this is a fairly minor quibble because the prose was so very delicious so I overlooked this for the most part.

As for the plot, this is a sequel to the original and takes place about thirteen years after the ending of that novel. Our surviving characters have tried to move on with life while they are also all still very much in touch, having been united by those horrific events into life-long friends. Jonathan and Mina have a child, Quincey, who is quite precocious. Suddenly a tragic event occurs and then a series of other tragic events that become increasingly concerning. At first there doesn’t appear to be any connection between these things–and how could there be?–they are so far apart in nature. Over the course of the book more and more disturbing things occur until it becomes quite clear that there is a huge force at work steering all of these events towards a horrifying conclusion–Dracula is back. And he’s into politics now? Hahah. Just kidding. But not really, he kind of is. He wants revenge against everyone apparently. Everyone.

Everything here is beefed up. There are way more vampires, spreading like a virus, and way more violence and destruction, and Dracula’s ambitions have grown quite large. Honestly this part did seem a bit iffy to me, his master plan, because it was very odd and I’m not sure if it was in character for Dracula. That being said, I also felt certain parallels with some political leaders of today. I’m not sure if it’s the times seem like every wannabe dictator is a stand-in for Trump but it feels like it when I’m reading these things. He uses the news as propaganda. He gets the everyone distracted by the violence that he created to use it as an excuse to halt progress and go back to ‘the good old days’. Any of this sounding familiar? Hmmm. Maybe I’m reading too much into this but it does make one think!

Well, and there’s the end. I’m not going to spoil things but let’s just say that it leaves some possibilities on the table. 🙂 Overalll, I enjoyed this book even though the pace took a long while to build momentum, I had fun with it. Things really ramped up at the end and the plot wasn’t just a rehash from the original. There were great ambitions! And the prose and style were fantastic. I would have liked a little more from some of the characters, but that was a very minor thing for me. If you liked the original I say give this one a whirl. 4/5 stars.

20 thoughts on “Book Review: Dracula’s Child by J.S. Barnes

  1. dinipandareads says:

    Great review! I still haven’t read Dracula yet although it’s high on my TBR, this one does sound really interesting! It seems like there’s a lot going on and I’d be curious to see how it all comes together 🤔

  2. pagesandtea says:

    Great review. It’s a long time since I read Dracula, and I’ve almost started a re-read a couple of times but I might have to pick this up instead. I really like the epistolary style, so the way this new story is told would probably suit me.
    Glad you enjoyed this 🙂

  3. Tammy says:

    I’m really intrigued by this, one of these days ill have to try it. I love the epistolary format and I’m always looking for more books that use it.

    • waytoofantasy says:

      Yeah, I don’t know if I was reading too much into it but it felt like there were definite parallels. There’s even a whole thing with the media and propaganda which I don’t even think I went into during my review. I’d be interested to see some other perspectives on it!

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