The Blurb: The Dracula Chronicles is the brilliant and terrifying new concept of Dracula. It is an epic journey through the ages where the forces of Light and Darkness struggle for supremacy until the Second Great War, as foretold in the Book of Revelations. This bitter feud began after the creation of mankind. Lucifer’s jealousy leads to the First Great War of the angels. Hundreds of thousands of years on the feud simmers beneath the surface. It plots the course of history as we know it today. Both sides manipulate the major players through the centuries to seek an advantage over the other.
On a cold night in December 1431 in Sighisoara an old gypsy woman delivers a prophecy to the great Vlad Dracul. She tells him he is about to sire two sons, one an angel and the other a devil. He returns to his fortress just as his wife bears him a son, whom he names Vlad. In the very same moment across the country on the border between Transylvania and Hungary a gypsy girl gives birth to another son, Andrei. The die is cast. The twin souls are born. The young Vlad Dracula becomes the instrument of the forces of Darkness. To balance this, the baby Andrei is blessed by the angels and bestowed with awesome powers. These chronicles are their story.
The Mention: Honourably Mentioned as author Shane KP O'Neill is a friend on facebook, this 2012 offering explores an alternate history as experienced by Vlad Ţepeş in, what is the first of two volumes within a wider chronicle series. Now I trust that you know that Bram Stoker did not base the title character of Dracula on Vlad Ţepeş, Dracula was a borrowed name and a footnote, nothing more, and this has been convincingly and repeatedly proved by Dracula scholar Elizabeth Miller. However it is also true that Ţepeş and Dracula the vampire are now forever interweaved in modern folklore.
Thus, whilst I bristle at versions of the novel that try to make that connection I am sanguine when a novel (or film) uses Ţepeş as its basis in its own right. What Shane O’Neill has done is take a historical figure, imbibe him with modern (and religiously based) lore rather than sticking canonically to Stoker’s lore and created a tale of a brutal and violent vampire.
This vampire has been created by Lucifer as part of his war against heaven – we also meet more briefly his twin-souled brother who is heaven’s agent. The turning process was like that of much vampire lore but it was the devil feeding Ţepeş his own blood. The primary vampire is pretty darn untouchable by mortal hands and thus there is a convoluted method of killing him that involves his soul brother and the brother’s seven sons. I say primary as he is able to make other vampires.
The novel walks through history, bending it into a vampiric shape, culminating in Dracula manipulating Martin Luther, causing the schism in Christianity part of his duty as he prowls through time towards the second great war. The novel also has a brutality to it. These vampires kill and maim, they rape and sadistically sexually torture victims. There is also the ability to be redeemed - not that many wish this.
The violence could be a bit much for some – I welcome it, vampires should have a dark side and these certainly do. I said that Stoker’s lore is not necessarily stuck to. Holy items need a faith behind them (though neither the devil nor Dracula can enter the Vatican), sunlight burns vampires – there is a get out to this. If Dracula feeds upon a foetus it confers the ability to withstand daylight (though not direct sunlight) and to become invisible at will.
It was nice to delve into history, when many authors are in a modern urban fantasy mode, it was great to have brutality, when many vampires seem to be potential boyfriends. I can live with it featuring Ţepeş as this is not Stoker canon. Gory fun.