Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

One of 2018’s most highly anticipated fall reads has to be author Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s novel Dracul. The book is the official prequel to the classic literary horror classic Dracula, written by Dacre Stoker’s great-granduncle Bram Stoker. Taking the concept first explored by Bram and showcasing how the legend of Dracula first began, the story puts the Stoker family in the role of protagonists and explores where the myth and legends truly came from. Here is the synopsis.

The Synopsis

The prequel to Dracula, inspired by notes and texts left behind by the author of the classic novel, Dracul is a supernatural thriller that reveals not only Dracula’s true origins but Bram Stoker’s–and the tale of the enigmatic woman who connects them.

It is 1868, and a twenty-one-year-old Bram Stoker waits in a desolate tower to face an indescribable evil. Armed only with crucifixes, holy water, and a rifle, he prays to survive a single night, the longest of his life. Desperate to record what he has witnessed, Bram scribbles down the events that led him here…

A sickly child, Bram spent his early days bedridden in his parents’ Dublin home, tended to by his caretaker, a young woman named Ellen Crone. When a string of strange deaths occur in a nearby town, Bram and his sister Matilda detect a pattern of bizarre behavior by Ellen–a mystery that deepens chillingly until Ellen vanishes suddenly from their lives. Years later, Matilda returns from studying in Paris to tell Bram the news that she has seen Ellen–and that the nightmare they’ve thought long ended is only beginning.

The Review

I will say it now: this is one of my 2018 picks for best book of the year. It was truly amazing to read, and was as engaging as the original novel written by Bram Stoker over a century ago. Capturing the gothic, Victorian era setting and interweaving history, mythology and handwritten notes from author Bram Stoker himself, the authors really did a wonderful job bringing the life of Bram Stoker and his family to life in a horror based setting.

Now while the world knows the works of Bram Stoker’s Dracula to be a fiction horror tale, what fascinated me about Dracul was not only the amount of history and real life individuals mixed into the narrative, but learning about the creation of Dracula to begin with. Readers will be enthralled to learn the true manuscript first written by Bram Stoker was never meant to be a fictional tale, but through the words of Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker’s afterward we learn how the book came to be what we know today, and that large portions of the original novel have never been published before. How much of this horrific and scary tale are fiction as we know it, and how much is fact?

The writing itself was amazing. The story was written in an epistolary format, allowing us to delve into the minds of the Stoker family themselves, as well as associates of the family and historical records to match some of the claims. Fans of the original tale of Dracula will love the similarities and context given throughout this novel, while modern day horror fans and readers will be enthralled with the vast character development and parallels between the life of Bram Stoker (in the novel) and the stories told within his novel years later.

The Verdict

This is a must read book for 2018. As a history buff, classic horror fan and overall Bram Stoker enthusiast, this story really captured my attention from the beginning. From the author’s early years battling illness to the life or death battle with unknown forces he and his siblings undertook, this is the kind of story that comes along rarely. If you haven’t yet, be sure to pick up the novel Dracul by Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker today!

Rating: 10/10

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/0735219346/ref=x_gr_w_glide_bb?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_w_glide_bb-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=0735219346&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

About the Authors

Dacre Stoker:

2909175

Dacre Stoker, a Canadian citizen and resident of the U.S., is the great-grandnephew of Bram Stoker. He is also the godson of H.G. Dacre Stoker, the commander of the AE2 submarine, whose tactics were instrumental in Gallipoli in World War I.

Dacre, who now calls Aiken, South Carolina home, was a member of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Team, Senior World Championships in 1979 and coach of the Canadian Men’s Modern Pentathlon Olympic Team, Seoul, South Korea in 1988. Dacre is married to Jenne Stoker and is the father of two children. He is the Executive Director of the Aiken Land Conservancy.

Dracula: The Un-Dead is Dacre’s first novel.

Dacre Stoker’s Links:

https://twitter.com/dacrestoker?lang=en

https://www.facebook.com/DacreCStoker/

J.D. Barker:

8224327

J.D. BARKER is the internationally best-selling author of Forsaken, a finalist for the Bram Stoker Award for Superior Achievement in a First Novel, and winner of the New Apple Medalist Award. His work has been compared to Stephen King, Dean Koontz, and Thomas Harris. His 4MK Thrillers, The Fourth Monkey and The Fifth to Die, were released in June 2017 and June 2018 respectively. He has been asked by the Stoker family to coauthor the forthcoming prequel to Dracula due out in fall 2018. His novels have been translated into numerous languages and optioned for both film and television. Barker currently resides in Pennsylvania with his wife, Dayna, daughter, Ember, and their two dogs, both of whom sit outside his office door daily, eagerly awaiting his next novel.

A note from J.D.

As a child I was always told the dark could not hurt me, that the shadows creeping in the corners of my room were nothing more than just that, shadows. The sounds nothing more than the settling of our old home, creaking as it found comfort in the earth only to move again when it became restless, if ever so slightly. I would never sleep without closing the closet door, oh no; the door had to be shut tight. The darkness lurking inside needed to be held at bay, the whispers silenced. Rest would only come after I checked under the bed at least twice and quickly wrapped myself in the safety of the sheets (which no monster could penetrate), pulling them tight over my head.

I would never go down to the basement.

Never.

I had seen enough movies to know better, I had read enough stories to know what happens to little boys who wandered off into dark, dismal places alone. And there were stories, so many stories.

Reading was my sanctuary, a place where I could disappear for hours at a time, lost in the pages of a good book. It didn’t take long before I felt the urge to create my own.

I first began to write as a child, spinning tales of ghosts and gremlins, mystical places and people. For most of us, that’s where it begins—as children we have such wonderful imaginations, some of us have simply found it hard to grow up. I’ve spent countless hours trying to explain to friends and family why I enjoy it, why I would rather lock myself in a quiet little room and put pen to paper for hours at a time than throw around a baseball or simply watch television. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes I want to do just that, sometimes I wish for it, but even then the need to write is always there in the back of my mind, the characters are impatiently tapping their feet, waiting their turn, wanting to be heard. I wake in the middle of the night and reach for the pad beside my bed, sometimes scrawling page after page of their words, their lives. Then they’re quiet, if only for a little while. To stop would mean madness, or even worse—the calm, numbing sanity I see in others as they slip through the day without purpose. They don’t know what it’s like, they don’t understand. Something as simple as a pencil can open the door to a new world, can create life or experience death. Writing can take you to places you’ve never been, introduce you to people you’ve never met, take you back to when you first saw those shadows in your room, when you first heard the sounds mumbling ever so softly from your closet, and it can show you what uttered them. It can scare the hell out of you, and that’s when you know it’s good.

jd

J.D. Barker’s Links:

http://jdbarker.com/

https://www.facebook.com/therealjdbarker

https://www.instagram.com/jdbarker_author/

https://twitter.com/jdbarker

Advertisements

The Steps by Iveta Redliha REVIEW

An attempt to create the perfect family leads to secrets and tragedies in Iveta Redliha’s novel, The Steps. The Latvian author, (along with a beautiful translation from translator Karina Loza), builds a haunting world in which two decades collide and a haunted past could lead to a bloody future. Here is the official synopsis:

“Shivers ran down Reyna’s spine. For a moment she thought his last words were meant as a threat. The stranger’s look had been so sharp and penetrating, horrifying and exciting at the same time. She embraced herself and shuddered once again. This time it was due to the pungent wind that was becoming stronger as the evening grew closer. For a while she stood there watching Lucas walk away, then finally looked away.”

Bradbury is a gorgeous property that stands amidst dark secrets. One fine day a young reckless woman Leonora, driven by desire for easy money that a rich couple would offer their surrogate mother, comes to live at the mansion, unsuspecting of the paths this seemingly carefree life and lust for money will bring to.
Meanwhile, Reyna’s steady life is turned upside down the moment her mother dies in suspicious circumstances and leaves her an unknown property and dark secrets from her turbulent past. Around that time handsome yet secretive Lucas comes into Reyna’s life. At the end the truth about the young man and the horrors of his past that haunt him, not allowing him to give in to his feelings, serves a final blow to Reyna.

Iveta Redliha (b. 1977) is a Latvian writer. With great passion she unravels in writing destinies of people of different walks of life, and their entangled feelings. “The Steps” was born out of the writer’s imagination and built on inspiration from gothic love and detective novels.

This Gothic Thriller is extremely unique and delivers a chilling story. The characters are flawed, human and sometimes terrifying. The story of a young woman’s mission of greed becomes a horrifying family drama, while another woman meets a mysterious man and learns he may have a dark side he is hiding from her. Telling the tale of a powerful family ruled by money and influence, and those that get ensnared in their power struggles and selfish desires is something we’ve seen play out time and again, and yet it’s given a breath of fresh air from author Iveta Redliha.

The writing is exceptional, delivering a spine-chilling account of two worlds colliding in messy and unexpected ways. It was a fast paced read with
lots of twists and turns, and while there are a few spots where you can see where the grammar didn’t match up with the translation, overall the
book was greatly translated for the English speaking audience, delivering a powerful literary experience that is wholly unique and fun.

Overall this was a fantastic read. The atmospheric nature of the Gothic genre blends perfectly with the mystery of the thriller genre in Iveta
Redliha’s The Steps, and if you haven’t yet I highly recommend you pick up your copies today!

Rating: 8/10

Interview with Author/Illustrator Isis Sousa:


1) Tell us a little bit about yourself and
how you came to be a writer.

Hi Anthony! First of all, I want to thank
you for the great opportunity! I never know what to tell about myself… But I
can start sharing about the things I do. I work as professional illustrator doing
most book covers nowadays and before that I have worked as graphic designer in
the heavy metal music industry. I also do photography as hobby, most
nature/landscapes, I am a woodcarving apprentice and ornament painter and on my
scarce free time I also enjoy climbing/hiking on mountains and nurture a
passion for languages. I begin to write by accident. I had an idea for a story
one day and by the time it was the self-publishing boom… And then I asked myself,
why not publish it? Just for fun? Then, I did it and the story was “The Night
of Elisa.”

2) Where did the inspiration for “The Night of Elisa” come from?

It came from a dream I had 13-14 years ago.
I was there, in this place where the twilight was eternal and discovered the
people around me were all dead… I had a warning about the death of a friend/co-worker
in that dream. Which came true about a week later, and this experience has been
imprinted in who I am to this day. Bram Stoker’s Dracula, the book and Francis
Ford Coppola’s movie were also very remarkable to me. Music has also a great
influence in what I do and. I’d say those were the main sources of inspiration
for the story 🙂

3) What other writers or artists have inspired your work?

Oh boy! This list would be endless! I am an
art nuts, I collect art books and images, fiction and a loooot of music. I can
say writers such as Stephen King, Mary Shelley, Clive Barker, Allan Moore, Bram
Stoker, Oscar Wilde, to name a few. (Yes, I am all about classics, both the old
school and the modern.) I love the works of illustrators painters such as Mark
Simonetti, Pierangelo Boog, Corrado Vanelli  and Raphael Lacoste and many, many names of
the classic arts.


4) What do you find is your best creative outlet: writing or artwork, (i.e.
illustration, graphic design, etc?)

Artwork, no doubt! 🙂 Writing is too
tiresome, too slow, and full of letters 😉 Doing art is so free, colourful,
flows like good music.

5) You mention in your bio you are a metal fan. What bands do you listen to
when you are working on your next book or piece of art?

I love many Metal bands and also the
classics in Hard Rock. Some of the most inspirational bands for me are Paradise
Lost, Moonspell, Therion, Lacuna Coil, Within Temptation,  and Crematory to name a few.

6) What is your favorite genre to both read and write in?

Gothic, classic Gothic stuff 🙂 I am attracted
to the Dark and the Fantastic, and the Romantic aesthetics.

7) How do you feel social media has impacted your reach as an artist and
writer?

To be honest, it has impacted tremendously.
Art communities such as CGScociety, Sketchoholic, IAMag and Art Station (which
are the social media for digital artists/illustrators) together with Facebook, connected
me to great names of the industry and clients.

As an author, my best social media is
GoodReads and recently, Twitter. Goodreads, specially, has enabled me to
connect with most of my readership and helped me spread the word about my work
and come across a lot of cool authors, such as yourself! And now Twitter is
putting me across a lot of interesting people with common interests.

Without social media, it would be extremely
difficult to show the world the work that I do…

8) What do you find more rewarding when
writing: developing plot or creating your characters?

Characters, characters and characters 😀
Developing plots give me headache 😛 Characters are fun, I can imagine what
they are made of, what do they like, what they look like and how they would
react in given situation… This is such a cosy part of the process.

9) What is one genre you would never write in and why?

Hm, I am kind of an “anti” person, so it
would be most genres! LOL Don’t get me wrong. I love to read most genres and I
like to add a pinch of romance, horror, mystery and anything dark in my work as
a general rule. I think perhaps the least attractive genres to write, would be
in my opinion, a “romantic romance” or a “sweet romance”, also erotica. these genres are just
not me, but I respect  and root for those who write them. Oh and I almost forgot – Young Adult. I dislike 99% of YA stories out
there and I see no fun at all in writing about teen years, ew! 😛

10) What are your future plans for your writing and art careers?

The most selfish of all!!!  – To be able to live out of my illustrated
books someday and to paint ONLY for myself (meaning, as an artist, I would not
need to make commissioned work for any clients, anymore!). I love my clients,
they are smart, fun, great minds to work with, but every artist’s dream is to
paint for him/herself! ^.^

The Night of Elisa by Isis Sousa Review:

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author and Booklover Catlady Publicity in return for a fair and honest review.
Many thanks!

If Penny Dreadful and American Horror Story were to be combined into one super project, it would look a lot like Isis Sousa’s “The Night of Elisa”.
This beautifully illustrated horror and suspense novel takes readers through a unique story in a Victorian era setting with a phenomenal
array of various characters. The story follows Elisa, a mysterious girl who is fleeing a troubled past, and Leonhard, the man who finds Elisa
but fears she’ll discover his dark history.

Taking the reader through an almost Beauty and the Beast style story with some more mature and
horror filled elements for sure, this is a story that needed to be told, and the cinematic and visual representation of the story through the
mixture of art and story makes this one of the most unique reads I’ve read in 2016. The interesting take on this story made it almost feel like
a classic novel written in the Gothic era the story is based on, as if it were a manuscript previously unknown to the world and recently discovered
by historians. That is the power of Isis Sousa, and her beautiful tale of Duskland and the characters in this mystery land is one of the most
original horror stories to come out in recent years. Visually, character development wise and settings wise, “The Night of Elisa” is a must
read novel that readers will be fully engrossed in, and this reviewer hopes to see a sequel to this incredible tale.