Dracula’s Child by J.S. Barnes
Titan, pb, £7.37
Reviewed by Sarah Deeming
It has been some years since the Harkers and their friends destroyed Dracula, riding the world of darkness. Mina and Jonathon have retired to a quiet life in the countryside to raise their son and tend their lasting mental scars. Lord Godalming has a prominent position in British politics, and Doctor Seward has a successful practise on Harley Street.
But darkness is growing in the East and it’s focused is fixed on Britain and in particular the Harkers’ young son, Quincy. Do the ageing heroes of the past have the physical and mental strength to face eternal and all-consuming hatred once more?
As a big fan of Bram Stoker’s Dracula, I was keen to get my hands on Dracula’s Child, and I am pleased to say it did not disappoint. Made up of a combination of journals, letters, telegraphs, and newspaper articles, the language, tone, and atmosphere match the original so perfectly it could have been written at the time by Stoker himself.
Dracula’s Child follows an organisation made up of affluent and powerful men called the Council of Athelstan who are unhappy with the way Britain is developing. They believe that under the government of Count Dracula, Britain can return to its glory days, ignoring the unstoppable nature of progress. Using their influence, they orchestrate civil unrest in London and smuggle a vampire into the capital to create an impossible situation for the king which they intend to take advantage of. Without giving anything away, the reader should be aware you should never trust a vampire.
The fantastical nature of the story is grounded by the lasting impact of the returning characters previous encounter with Dracula. Mina and Jonathon are not an effective married couple. Jonathon’s torture at the hands of Dracula and his brides has left him mentally scarred, so Jonathon turns to alcohol as a coping mechanism. Mina is not unsympathetic to what he has been through, but she is judging of her husband’s drinking, which leads Jonathon to drink more, so she becomes more exasperated with him, a vicious cycle for both of them. It is this aspect of the emotional impact from Dracula acting as an extra antagonistic element in Dracula’s Child which dragged me into the story. I already cared about these characters, and I was sad but not surprised to see them reduced by what had happened.
This is a bleak story, there are no happy moments as the main characters beset on all sides with evil both human and immortal. As you would expect with an ending to match. I don’t do spoilers unless I have to, and always with a warning, so I won’t say much, just that the ending gave me genuine chills and put J.S. Barnes on my list of go-to authors.