Saturday, December 24, 2016

Book review: Dracula Vs. Hitler by Patrick Sheane Duncan

Dracula Vs. Hitler by Patrick Sheane Duncan

Hardcover, 441 pages

Published October 2016 by Inkshares

So I first heard about this book when I did a book signing at Mysterious Galaxy here in San Diego with the author of this book. My first impression when I saw the title of the book listed before the event was to assume it was goof ball Bizarro comedy. I expected the author to be some young dude who had self-published his goofy crossover novel. Look the lesson here is you can't always judge a book or author by the title alone.

When Duncan spoke at the bookstore he admitted that the title started as a joke. One he kept thinking about, eventually he decided he wanted to write. He did an OK job selling the novel, but not once did he mention that he was the playwright behind Mister Holland's Opus (that he also adapted to the screen) and he also wrote Courage under Fire. I am sure he didn't want to brag but mister Duncan...Telling us your credits certainly would help sell your book that intentionally has a corn-ball title.

I only discovered this listening to Duncan on the Horrible Imaginings Podcast. It is a great interview and I respect Miguel's tastes so his high praise for the book was the main reason I decided to read it. Super glad I did.

Dracula Vs. Hitler is actually quite a fantastic read. It is not the book you would expect from title or is it. PSD crafted a excellently thought out and researched novel. In the end it actually ends up being a powerful piece of work. It was not the strongest first act, but that is because he paid serious homage to the structure of the 19th century classic. Dracula doesn't even appear until 100 pages in, but the stage is set with journal entries telegrams and in the same way that the OG Bram Stoker novel did.

The novel begins following descendants of the Dracula characters Jonathan Harker and Lucille Van Helsing. Harker through his war-time journals and Van Helsing's unpublished novel written in a pen name. When we meet these characters in 1941 they cross paths in the Romanian resistance to the Nazi invasion. Harker is a English spy and Van Helsing is fighting with the partisans. We quickly learn that her father the elder Van Helsing is also part of the resistance. He has a radical idea for how to combat the barbarism of the Nazis. After the SS execute a dozen random citizens to punish the resistance. He hatches his plan. Fight monsters with the ultimate monster. Considering the monster got his first taste for blood fending off an invasion it seemed he might be into it.

The reason Dr.Van Helsing never left - he had tp guard the castle of Count Dracula. You see he did not cut off the monster's head as the book claimed. The vampire is frozen in death inside his coffin with a stake in his heart. The chapter 100 pages into the book that Van Helsing takes out the stake and recruits Dracula is excellent. It is a powerful moment that showcases Duncan's skill as a writer. What could be cheezy drips with tension. The book has two more chapters that are that powerful indeed the chapter when the title characters finally meet is so great.

As a reader one of my only problems is each switch in POV brought with it a new font, and some were hard to read, but over all it was well edited and laid-out. This novel was released by Inkshares which is the kickstarter of publishing so I wondered about some of those things. That being said Gary Whitta's Abomination was a excellent book also released by Inkshares. The chapters "written" by Eva Von Braun Hitler's longtime partner were some of the most interesting of the book but the handwriting style font was hard to read at times.

The events of the book perfectly set up a trilogy and I have to say I'll sign up to read the next book for sure. I am pleasantly surprised. Great historical horror that would make a great companion read to McCammon's Wolf Hour.

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