Review: Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula

Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula by Bram Stoker
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Shortly after the original Dracula was published, it was translated and published in Iceland. However, this version is a significantly different version of Dracula than what readers are familiar with. This version focuses about two-thirds of its time on Thomas Harker (as opposed to Jonathan in Stoker's original novel) and his time spent traveling to and in Dracula's castle. Within the castle, readers are exposed to entirely new plot threads that include a seductive female vampire that Harker is repeatedly seduced by, a more complicated plot to invade Europe, and a degenerate race of vampires within the castle. While this version is told in first-person and is elaborate in its detail for the first half, the second half (the part readers are most familiar with taking part in England and the like) flitters by quickly in third-person and feels more like summation than story. As someone interested in how popular stories are told and retold through culture, I appreciated reading this and seeing how the history of the manuscript and translations may have changed the Dracula that I know. In fact, the numerous introductions and prefaces to the text are a fascinating literary discussion about how this text was discovered, the role to which Stoker approved or was involved in the translation, and the liberties that the translator took in translating it. That's probably the best part of the whole book, learning how and where this version came from. The story itself is decent but because the second half comes as an afterthought, it feels less exciting. I would have loved to see what the world of the first half of this translated text would have produced as a second half of the story if the same amount of detail and attention was given.

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