Sunday, August 03, 2008

Vampyre: The Terrifying Lost Journal of Dr Cornelius Van Helsing – review

First Published: 2007

Contains spoilers

The Blurb: “‘The Doctors can do nothing for my brother – he has gradually become weaker and now spends much time in a deathly state, speechless and still.

I am determined to help him… My wife has begged me not to go, but it is my duty to look for a cure for this accursed illness…

We retrace my brother’s steps through Europe and into the very heart of Transylvania in search of the evil of his illness…’

Dr Cornelius Van Helsing – London, Spring 1907”

The Review: Okay, so it is a kids’ book. But *what* a kids’ book. I wish books had been designed like this, for children, when I was younger.

Taking the idea that some years after the defeat of Dracula, Abraham Van Helsing falls ill and his brother Cornelius becomes convinced it is an illness vampiric in origin, the book is set out as Cornelius’ journal. The book itself is filled with invisible notes that appear when rubbed, holograms, samples of ‘wolf fur’, letters and notes attached to the page as though stuck in.

This is like a more interesting version of a pop-up book, filled with nooks and crannies that any child will enjoy exploring and so intricate that it hides the fact that the story is a little, shall we say, loose and sparse.

That said, this is a treasure trove of various bits of lore, hidden throughout said nooks and crannies, and I am sure that most children will get a kick out of discovering about vampires in this way and, I would think, some may even develop a life long love of the genre.

The only real issue is the price tag. It is a lovely volume and will have cost a lot to print and produce, I am sure, but it is only really 32 pages long. At £17.99 (aprox $36), this seems stiff for a kids’ book – though I found it for considerably less in a publishers clearing house.

That said, it is a lovely gift type volume and the kind of thing that gets pride of place on a bookshelf. 8 out of 10 – with caveats (regarding level aimed at and price) in place.


Derek "Ruthven" Tatum said...

I forgot if I have mentioned this before, but have you seen "The Vampire Hunter's Handbook?" It is in a similar format but the art is incredible and surprsingly frightening.

Amateur Vampirologist said...

Hi Derek,

At first, I thought you meant Erin Slonaker's "field guide" of the same name (published in 2001).

But I believe you meant the one by "Raphael Van Helsing", which was also published in 2007.

It should also be noted that Sean Manchester also has a book of the same name, but published in 1997.

Anyhoo, you might also be interested in Scott Bowen's The Vampire Survival Guide: How to Fight, and Win, Against the Undead (2008).

Hi Taliesin,

The book you reviewed also seems to have much longer (80 pages) companion volume called The Compendium of Vampyres and Other Perilous Creatures (2007).

The style of of the work you reviewed, reminds me of those "-Ology" books. You know, like Dragonology (2003), Egyptology (2004), Wizardology (2005), etc.

I did write to their publisher, Templar Publishing, about writing a "Vampirology" edition to the series. But it seems they weren't up for it, due to potential lack of market. Oh well.

Taliesin_ttlg said...

Derek - you probably did mention, as someone did - being lazy I didn’t check through!!!

AV – sorry but you’ve already been reduced to initials!! – it is very much in the realm of the ology books. I can’t see it being anything to do with Sean Manchester as he would not release anything “kid only”. There is a companion, which I will look at wih a price caveat.