Sims, Michael. Dracula’s Guest: A Connoisseur’s Collection of Victorian Vampire Stories. Walker & Company, 2010. ISBN pp. $
The very academic, 16-page introduction gives a detailed introduction to the vampire subgenre, setting the knowledgeable tone for this collection of Victorian era vampire-themed essays, excerpts and stories, including a previously unpublished (and cut) scene from Bram Stroker’s Dracula. Although complete in scope, with stories ranging
wide in style, content and country of origin, some of the impact is lessened by the content that precedes each tale–sometimes as long as the tale itself–that dissects the story, sets it in content and biographizes the writers.
One inclusion is a monk’s dissertation of ghosts/vampires in eastern Europe. Two of the stories are more draft than polished product, conceived alongside Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, in Lord Byron’s challenge to his writer friends on a summer evening to “write a ghost story.” Another interesting contribution is an excerpt from Emily Giroud’s The Land Beyond the Forest (a travel memoir apparently utilized as a resource by Stoker) with a chapter on “Death and Burial: Vampires and Werewolves” concerning superstitions, rites and rituals of Romanian peasants regarding the deceased.
Certainly, vampires are hot, but this is so scholarly in nature–except where it’s filled with Victorian writing, in all it’s melodrama, formality, and subtlety–I didn’t even make it to the title story, but I bet my English Expo professor, Bob Smart, would love this book.