The Crypt of Dracula
Book Author: Kane Gilmour
Length: 209 pages print length
I chose to read this novel because it is a Dracula novel. It came to my attention through a recommendation. To me (and hopefully to other fans of horror), Dracula is one of the core characters of horror. This character is a classic staple in the horror genre and community. Everyone knows who Dracula is. This character and the subject of Dracula and vampires have been done so many times that it’s really hard to find something classic and different at the same time. So often I find that each vampire story is typically the same with little variation. And the story often seems to be told with a certain bias against Dracula. It's the same kind of bias you might find in a typical werewolf story. It is one that accompanies monsters of all eras; these creatures have no feelings, no heartfelt compassion, no soul, and no morals, ultimately projecting the idea that they are entirely inhuman (and always have been) and are not capable of and do not possess any characteristic or quality that is unique to human beings.
This novel is not like other typical Dracula stories, in my opinion. This novelist puts considerable time, effort, and emphasis on the characters, their surroundings, their emotions and experiences, practically everything except Dracula himself. I would liken it to the way we see the shark portrayed in the movie Jaws. We barely see the shark compared to the other characters but have other elements and observations to conclude that the threat is there. However, Gilmour can do this without being longwinded or drowning the reader in insignificant details or irrelevant tangents. This creates a clear picture of the author’s unique individual interpretation of a classic Dracula tale. And it’s the physical but heavily implied absence of Dracula that makes him such a formidable foe, as we see the shark to be in the movie Jaws.
This novel is very well-written utilizing a certain type of language that takes the reader back to a previous era yet the verbiage isn’t cryptic, muddled, or unfamiliar feeling (such as how some people feel about Shakespeare). Although the story does take a little time to develop, the foundation is necessary. Furthermore, once it does get moving along, it doesn’t stop. This author has excellent usage of an extensive vocabulary that conjures up a slew of vivid images.
Within this tale are five essential characters other than Dracula; Petran, Fritz, Wagner, Gretchen, and Anneli. Petran is Dracula’s servant. Wagner and Fritz have been hired to do repairs at the castle of Count Dracula. Anneli is married to Wagner and Gretchen is in a relationship with Fritz but, they are not married yet. As the two gents would be at the castle for an extended period of time, they opted to bring their significant others to join them in staying at the castle.
The story details the strange behaviors of the Count and Petran and the effects of these encounters on the guests of the castle. The odd and mysterious behaviors of these two men aren’t the only things that start to unsettle the two couples. Paranormal activity coupled with peculiar changes in the castle such as items cryptically being moved around the rooms, and objects outside the castle’s living space unexplainedly being put in motion with no discernable force putting the visitors in an unnerving state of alarm and mortal danger.
This novel is packed with suspense, horror, gore, violence, drugs, sex, monsters and creatures beyond this world, seduction, romance, and a small group of unwitting victims. There are intimate encounters, dark and damp hallways, and staircases drenched in fear and precariousness, and grotesque creatures moving about the castle in wickedly unnatural ways. Truly slowly walking the reader through each disturbing brush with the danger that surrounds them.
Gilmour uses some very interesting, and what I would consider unique, word choices displaying an excellent use of his extensive vocabulary which allows for the superb descriptions with which he paints for us the full picture of the time that our characters spend with the Count. Gilmour takes the very common mystical and romantic portrayal of Dracula and sublimely melds it with the true evil of a creature of the undead. Though the personalities of the characters are well defined, within each lies hidden or more subtle traits that must inevitably show themselves through various circumstances, albeit forced or voluntary.
All of these qualities merge together to create descriptions so vivid and meticulous that the reader gets as close to watching a movie as one can while reading a book. The movie that played in my head while reading was steady, interesting, fascinatingly intense, suspenseful, and very satisfying from start to finish. This was truly a joy to read.
This is a collection of short stories from this author. I chose this book to review from the options that the good people of Black Tide Book Tours offered. I’m glad I picked this one. First of all, as most of my readers are aware, I really enjoy short story collections. Sometimes it feels like more bang for your buck when you get multiple stories in one book. I used the same system to rate this collection as I have in the past. I score each story individually on a scale from 1-5 and then I take the average of all the scores to come up with the rating for the whole book. With all that said, let’s get into it.
This book had a total of nine stories. I will list the individual scores in the latter part of this review. Overall, I enjoyed this collection very much. Every story got a 4 or 5 out of 5 on my rating scale except for the last story. Now, I am not going to go into detail about the content of this book only because they are short stories and to give that kind of detail would be almost like retelling the tales, which I don’t want to do. I would rather leave them for you to actually read. Instead, what I will do is go through the titles and give a few comments on my thoughts on each tale. Before I do that I must say, I really like this author. He has a very Twilight Zone-esque style of writing. Generally speaking, the stories also have a slow, solid build-up of suspense. And for me, they were mostly the kind of stories that commanded my attention because of the suspense. These were not stories that were easy to just put down in the middle of the tale. They grabbed my attention enough that I read each story all the way through before stopping as regular life inevitably gets in the way of my reading all the time.
Okay, here we go:
Living Water 5/5
I thought this was an excellent story. This was the one that struck me the most similar to The Twilight Zone. It had a fantastic build-up of suspense and moved along very smoothly. It was very well-written. Though it is a short story Coppel took time to develop each main character in a way that didn’t weigh the story down but still gave it a more “meaty” feel to it, creating a well-rounded and satisfying experience for the reader.
Lightning Strike 4/5
I thought this was an interesting story. This one had the same kind of slow-burning suspense that we see in Alfred Hitchcock films while simultaneously employing expertise in creepiness in the form of an automated smart home.
Last Touch 5/5
This was a good short story. What stood out to me was the seamless flow of the plot and how background information was carefully worked in and presented. I also particularly like the way the ending was written in this story.
Lost Words 4/5
I also really enjoyed this story. Overall, it was a good read. I would have liked a little more substance to make the ending a bit clearer, but that could be just me and how I interpreted it.
Labour Shortage 4/5
This was a fantastic story. Some might feel it moves a little slow, but it all comes together fabulously. I did notice a number of simple errors throughout this story that could have probably been remedied with the use of spell check and grammar check. But that would be my only complaint. Such errors just makes the story a little harder to read.
Lethal Assignment 5/5
This tale was amazing! This one might even be my favorite. This story had a fast pace, it flowed nicely and it embodied what I consider to be a great mystery type of story. The suspense is great and makes for a thrilling story. I especially loved the ending on this one.
Light Dusting 5/5
I found this to be an all-around well-balanced good story. It is very well-written with an easy flow of thought and plot just like the other stories. It incorporates a few surprises which I always find exciting in horror and thriller stories. This story had a fabulous ending and it left me feeling very satisfied.
Long Shadows 4/5
In this story, I liked the build-up. The story had a great flow that led to a great ending. The explanation of the shadows felt a little disconnected and a bit unnatural as if it were inserted into the story at a later time, not as a natural part of the creation of the original plot. Luckily, that didn’t take away from the overall story and I thought it was really good.
Lasting Memories 2/5
This was my least favorite story in the collection. This one moved too slowly for me. There were also some oddities in this one. The character’s last name on page one is Grant and then on page twenty-five, it’s suddenly Hall. I wouldn’t have considered this a horror or thriller story either. It almost seemed like a magical, mystical Hallmark Christmas movie type of story. There were a number of sentences where words seemed to be missing, kind of like the author was trying to get his hands to keep up with his thoughts and inevitably, some words got left out. Again, it just makes the story a little difficult to read and follow if things are confusing due to errors.
Though there were a few errors and hiccups here and there, I really enjoyed this collection. It’s not lost on me that the title of the collection uses words that begin with L and that each story title starts with an L. I found this to be a fun little tidbit, I just wish I knew what the reason was behind that so I could maybe appreciate it a bit more. But, overall, this was a fun group of twisted tales that are surely going to satisfy any horror/thriller lover.