Bram Stoker has enchanted millions of readers worldwide with the legend of the fearsome Count Dracula. What other treasures does the Gothic master hide in his desk?
Bram Stoker: The Lady of the Shroud
Bram Stoker will not disappoint his aftermath fans with the novel The Lady of the Shroud. Those who have read Dracula, will know for sure that, among the strengths of the Irish novel, we must count the particular structure. Dracula, in fact, is a novel halfway between the collection of letters and the diary, with excerpts of notes and documents. The same construction can be found in The Sudarium Lady, which has nothing to envy to her illustrious literary predecessor.
The story is set, once again, between England and Eastern Europe. The young Rupert Sent Leger receives a bizarre legacy from his late uncle. It is a manor located in the Land of the Blue Mountains. Together with the castle, his old and witty uncle has left to his nephew some unpleasant visits at night. The Lady of the Shroud enters the scene, a pale and thin woman, who has no other light, no other name, no other life, except in the notorious burning eyes.
The Jewel of Seven Stars
If you are tired of European Gothic, in The Jewel of Seven Stars you will have the opportunity to descend into the precious abysses of ancient Egypt. It must be said that this novel is a perfect blend of grotesque and exoticism, two thematic keys very popular in the nineteenth century.
Bram Stoker returns to the archetypal character of the scientist who, with too much curiosity, investigates the natural order of life and death. The two protagonists, Malcolm Ross and his sweet Margaret, locked inside a house-museum full of ancient artifacts, will have to face the arcane powers of the past that shake both their body and their mind.
The Lair of the White Worm
Aristocratic bickering, cursed castles and vodoo science intertwine in Bram Stoker’s latest romance work. The Lair of the White Worm summarizes the main motifs of past works. During the reading, we will hear the laziness of the fog that branches off revealing the bodies of lifeless infants, we will raise our ears to the peeling of moldy scales and our heart will freeze for some fatal kiss.
Richard Stalton, a young Australian of high lineage, moves to England under the advice of his uncle. His new home, the Lesser Hill Palace, will be the starting point for a marathon of high-bourgeois rivalry, love and destruction. From the top of the manor you can see the spires of another elegant building: Diana Grove, the lair of the worm.
The Chain of Destiny
Let’s move on to storytelling. The Chain of Destiny is a quality title right from the start. As with most authors, Bram Stoker sees short fiction as a testing ground. Page after page, a crescendo of tension rises and, to a greater extent, leads to psychological horror films. Is the evil outside or inside the human being? Bram Stoker, amidst curses, anxieties and suspicions, leads us to reflect on one of the most substantial questions of the Western world.
The Crystal Cup
Many critics and admirers of Bram Stoker consider the collection of The Crystal Cup an agglomeration of unripe sketches and far from the iconic prose that will distinguish the writer. This is true, both from a chronological and stylistic point of view, but to cross the threshold of Gothic literature, if a book of this kind has never been opened, the Crystal Cup will be an excellent starting point.
A kidnapped artist and a talent contest that will be paid for with death. The return to hell by an Orpheus full of shadows and romance – in the Byronian sense of the word. The love of a mother who pounds between blood and darkness. All this is contained in a booklet of eighty-three pages, a one-way ticket to the sad tale of Love and Death.
Advice and Conclusions
Bram Stoker is an author who, well or badly, almost everyone found themselves in front of in the middle of adolescence. A prolific writer, he has navigated the fields of non-fiction, theatre, journalism and fairy tales. Bringing back here a complete review would be impossible and rather hypocritical – since many texts are untraceable in Italian and I have not yet had the opportunity to translate them properly.
Dracula’s father offers, in all his work, a glimpse of 19th century England. Characters of all classes interact with each other, exchanging superstitions and false beliefs. Positivism clashes with the absurd, the absurd turns into madness. The paranormal is by no means taken for granted or inserted to give colour and attract readers. Monsters, nightmares and murders rest on a solid historical basis, which gives the whole a more likely taste.
Let’s now come to a few small pieces of advice. The works of Bram Stoker, with the exception of Dracula, are very rarely found on the shelves of bookstores. I can only recommend Bram Stoker’s reading, as much to connoisseurs of the genre as to those who are more reluctant to compare Gothic literature, which is too often considered second-degree.