The Dracula Tape – by Fred Saberhagen

The Dracula Tape, by Fred Saberhagen (Warner, 1975):

An “interview” predating by a year the self-revelation of Rice's Louis. In the first serious novel to present a vampire's story from his or her own point of view, Count Dracula retells the events of Stoker's book on the tape recorder of a car belonging to a descendant of Jonathan and Mina Harker.

Intent upon vindicating himself to the family of the woman he loves, as well as to the human world in general, the Count exposes the distortions in the published account of his 1890 move from Transylvania to England.

While adhering to the “facts” as recorded by Stoker (with the single exception of the date of Mina's pregnancy — and the broadminded reader might accept a vampirically-influenced thirteen-month gestation to reconcile this inconsistency), Saberhagen reinterprets them to show Count Dracula as the hero of the tale.

Ignorant human foes, led by the fanatical vampire-hunter Van Helsing, cause Lucy's death by incompatible blood transfusions (Dracula makes her a vampire only to give her a chance at life) and foil the Count's attempt at a peaceful life in England. According to Dracula's testimony, he never forces himself upon anyone and relies on animal blood as his primary nourishment. He enjoys the blood of Lucy and Mina for erotic, not nutritive, purposes, and both are more than willing.

Taking this novel in isolation, the reader might suspect Dracula of being an unreliable narrator, since his account is as clearly self-serving as those of Harker and Seward. Saberhagen's sequels, however, make it obvious that the author does intend the reader to accept Dracula's testimony as accurate.

Of the later books in the series, I consider the most successful to be The Holmes-Dracula File (Ace, 1978), told in alternate chapters by Count Dracula and Dr. Watson — a respectful Sherlock Holmes pastiche as well as a suspenseful vampire novel, displaying, like The Dracula Tape, conscientious research into the late Victorian period. Other books in the series contain flashbacks in which Dracula reminisces about his pre-vampire life and the circumstances of his transformation.

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This post was last modified on Jun 21, 2019 @ 16:18

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