Have you ever wondered what inspired a writer to write a story? Was it from pure imagination or remarkable experience? In Bram Stoker’s case, what drove him to write about the most horrifying, most enigmatic, most evil villain that became the most monstrous of all time? James Reese provided a fictional answer of his own.
The Dracula Dossier is supposedly composed of a newly revealed collection of Bram Stoker’s journal, letters, and news clippings; which obviously is a nod to the Dracula novel’s structure. The collector pre-arranged this collection chronologically before sending them to a trusted writer. This collection offered a great insight into the fictional Stoker’s life, and detailed events that will eventually inspire him to write his renowned novel.
The narrative of the book spun a suspenseful tale of Stoker’s discovery and involvement in Jack the Ripper’s bloody career in London. Being a witless participant in a cult ritual, Stoker felt responsible and tracked down the criminal. The task proved to be both horrifying and taxing for him and his friends, not discounting the toll it imposed on the citizens of London.
I finished this book after stalling it for 2 months; because despite the cover line, after reading 150 pages, there was still no suspense going on. But going back to it was a must, “a half-read book is a half-finished love affair” after all. James Reese is no doubt a talented writer. He must have studied every inch of the Dracula, because he emulated Stoker’s writing so well, down to its Victorian theme. He made a good job of weaving non-fictional characters into the story, mapping them well into the era, which probably took a lot of research. Lastly, there were plenty of references that Dracula readers can undoubtedly pick up. What struck me most, during those first 150 pages, was Mr. T.M. Penfold. He was the character I wished to have the best ending in this story, and did not disappoint me.
What undid it for me (1) was the wait for the suspense to happen; (2) the ending was engineered to a point that it was already unbelievable; (3) the premise, Jack the Ripper as the inspiration simply devaluated the eeriness and immensity of Dracula.
Read this if you are an avid Bram Stoker fan; you like the supernatural; have patience with Victorian writings; like creepy stories; and doesn’t mind waiting things to happen.
Rating: 3½ stars