Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Book Review: Dracula in Love by John Shirley

Dracula in Love By John Shirley

283 pages Zebra Paperback Out of Print

I've waited along time to read this novel. John Shirley is my favorite author in many ways. This novel while published second I believe it was it was his first completed novel. It is one of the few early novels that Shirley has not put back into print so I have spent years combing used book stores looking for a copy. I finally found one in Minnesota at the famous Sci-fi bookstore Dreamhaven. But it was in perfect shape so I put it on the shelf and protected it. I was not able to read it until I found a second reading copy at Smith's family books in Eugene.

I am excited to finally read it. Certainly I can as a long time Shirley fan see the imense growth he has made as writer but I was impressed with how strong of a novel it was for his first effort. The novel starts off with a very Stoker feel, Shirley is a master at matching styles. He completed a unfinished Poe story “The Eye” with several others in a collection and Shirley's was one of of the versions that sounded the most like Poe.

This is important as the first two chapters have a very Stoker feeling to then as Shirley sets up the main character Vladimir Horescu, who was raised wealthy but with out parents. The novel kicks with a letter Vlad receives from a man claiming to not only to be his father but the infamous Count Dracula. His father is coming to San Francisco, it seems he has been hanging out in NOLA as vampire have a habit of doing. Vlad is not exactly excited about dad. The most interesting part of the story is when Lucifer shows and wants Vlad to help him destroy Dracula.

This is an early work for Shirley and he is clearly not as refined of an author as we saw in book he wrote soon after like City-come- Walkin.' That said it is still really good. The characters are well developed with massive dumps of backstory that some authors bog books down with. Had This book come later Shirley's career I think the characters motivations might have been more clear. Lucifer came a far more interesting and frightening character to me.

An interesting aspect of the novel is the effect Dracula has on the community, with his presence coming an almost city wide blood ending in an increase in sexual violence. This is a very interesting part of the novel that I think a more season Shirley might have explored. Being an early novel I wondered if the early drafts had more exploring this issue that editors might have toned down.

That may be crazy talk as this novel has it's share of extremely graphic violence and sexuality. There is one moment that involves a person impaled that really had me cringing. This is out of print and hard to find so I suggest that huge Shirley fans make the effort, if your new to Shirley you should stick to the classics still in print.

1 comment:

Will Errickson said...

I'm kinda struggling with this one. Dug CELLARS tho. For my money nothing can beat Kim Newman's ANNO DRACULA for a Draculean twist.