It has been some years since Jonathan and Mina Harker survived their ordeal in Transylvania and, vanquishing Count Dracula, returned to England to try and live ordinary lives. But shadows linger long in this world of blood feud and superstition – and, the older their son Quincy gets, the deeper the shadows that lengthen at the heart of the Harkers’ marriage. Jonathan has turned back to drink; Mina finds herself isolated inside the confines of her own family; Quincy himself struggles to live up to a family of such high renown. And when a gathering of old friends leads to unexpected tragedy, the very particular wounds in the heart of the Harkers’ marriage are about to be exposed…
There is darkness both within the marriage and without – for, while Jonathan and Mina wrestle with the right way to raise a child while still recovering from the trauma of their past lives, new evil is arising on the Continent. A naturalist is bringing a new species of bat back to London; two English gentlemen, on their separate tours of the continent, find a strange quixotic love for each other, and stumble into a calamity far worse than either has imagined; and the vestiges of something thought long-ago forgotten is, finally, beginning to stir…
I love classic gothic fiction, so when I saw that a spiritual successor to Dracula was being released I knew that it would be a perfect October read. Not only was it a great read for the spooky season but it was also a brilliant sequel which could have been written by Bram Stoker himself.
Like it’s predecessor Dracula’s Child is epistolary and made up of a series of different journal entries, newspaper articles and telegrams from the various protagonists that make up the novel. I loved that this novel stayed faithful to this narrative format, especially as this allows you to really learn a lot about all the different characters in this novel and have a great understanding of how widespread this story is, and how many people are impacted. I also loved how throughout the novel we only learn about Quincey through the journal entries of other people and in the occasional footnote. Each character had a very clear and distinct voice through their sections, which shows Barnes’ talent as a writer. I also really enjoyed the way he portrayed Jonathan and Mina Harker in this novel, especially as it showed Mina as the more proactive out of the two.
By keeping the same narrative devices and tone as Dracula, not only does it make this novel feel like a sequel written by Stoker but it also helps with the pacing of the novel. The frequent changing of the narrative makes you eager to keep turning the pages as you want to know what happened to each character. As the reader you quickly figure out what is unravelling before you because you see all sides, but doing this doesn’t deter from the mystery or make the novel predictable. In fact, it makes you even more curious as you want to know when the other characters know what you do. It’s maddening but in the best way.
I was genuinely surprised by this novel, I knew I was most likely going to enjoy it as I enjoyed Dracula, however, I must admit that I was a little nervous going into it, worried that it wouldn’t live up to my expectations because I liked Dracula so much. If anyone else has similar worries about this novel that has made you hesitant to pick it up, let me assure you that there is nothing to worry about with this novel. It was everything I could have wanted from a ‘sequel’ and more.