Book Reviews

Dracul by Dacre Stoker & J.D. Barker

draculRating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁

I received an ARC from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

This novel was co-written by a descendant of Bram Stoker who based this book on historical and genealogical research that he reveals tantalizingly little about in the Epilogue, but more on that later.

Dracul is a fictionalized retelling of a period of Bram Stoker’s life from his youth, up until his college years. Other historical figures include: his siblings, Mathilda and Thornley, plus Thornley’s wife, and Bram’s childhood nanny, Ellen Crone, who plays the part of the antagonist.

At 500 pages long, it takes patience and dedication for this book to become interesting since it begins with the scattered letters and diary entries of the Stoker siblings; written in old-fashioned language that beats about the bush and is not quick to deliver on the drama. At this point, they have never even heard the word “vampire” and what is mysterious to them, is old news to a contemporary reader. If you’re reading Dracul, chances are you’ve also read Dracula and you know that this is what happens there too: the slow gathering of information about these monsters until they eventually arrive at a name. So yeah, it’s true to history and all that, but it’s not very fun for us if we already know the answer to their nanny’s very curious behavior.

Interspersed between these entries are ambiguous and way too repetitive events set in the present, where Bram is trapped in a room with a rifle, blessed white roses, a protective paste, and a jillion mirrors and crosses. (In one chapter, I lost count of the times that bits of the paste “crumbled to the ground”. We know that Bram is holding up the fort, but why???)

HOWEVER, somewhere after the 250-350 page mark, all of this waiting finally pays off. It becomes an entirely different book. The dam of mysteries breaks all at once, and the characters do less wondering and more reacting, until we finally reach the present and the language switches to third-person.

By the end, Dracul delivers the strong drama and emotions that 21st century readers are probably craving in a vampire novel. I did feel like all of that laboring through the boring bits paid off in the end, but some readers may not share that opinion.

The Epilogue includes scans of Bram Stoker’s original notes for Dracula, and a curious anecdote about the original novel’s publication history. There’s a lot of fun trivia about questions you may have been asking yourself throughout the text, but Dacre Stoker also teases you with more mysteries to wonder about and gather your own conclusions from. (I was super intrigued and a tad frustrated by this! I want to know more!!)

Overall, I did enjoy this book. Even though I didn’t have very flattering things to say for the first 250 pages or so, it did make me gasp in shock and recoil in disgust more than once. I would recommend it to heartfelt fans of the genre or original book, to those curious enough about the historical bits and mysteries, and to someone looking for a horror book that isn’t all heart-pounding thrills all the time. It is a well-written book but it really takes a long time for it to enthrall you.

Comes out on October 2nd!Β 

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Book Reviews

Misfit City Vol. 2 by Kirsten Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, Naomi Franquiz

Misfit City Vol. 2 (Misfit City #2) by Kirsten Smith (Goodreads Author), Kurt Lustgarten, Naomi Franquiz (Illustrator)

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁

Man, I didn’t realize there would only be two volumes in this series! I’m a tad sad it’s over.

This volume has a little bit more supernatural stuff than the previous one did, which makes it even more fun.

I definitely feel the story could have been improved by lengthening it and not leaving as many loose ends. For example, the disappearance of a very important character kept being brought up and, it was unclear how they disappeared in the first place (in one chapter they were there, and in the next one they weren’t), and I just didn’t find it believable that nobody was more actively concerned about finding such an important person.

Also, again, the art could be improved by making the faces of a few characters more distinct.

The ending left me confused because there’s a character we’ve never seen before (at first I thought I missed them somewhere but then I went back and double-checked through the first volume and couldn’t find them anywhere). It seems that with the addition of this character, the story could continue in a future volume? We also don’t know what happened to (spoiler)Β the baddies or the captainΒ and it just seemed odd to pretend like they never existed.

Overall I would definitely recommend Misfit City, especially if you’re itching to read something mysterious, supernatural, and Halloweeny, or are looking for stories with a team of female protagonists.

Book Reviews

Misfit City Vol. 1 (Misfit City #1) by Kirsten Smith, Kurt Lustgarten, Naomi Franquiz (Illustrator), Brittany Peer (Illustrator)

Misfit City Vol. 1 (Misfit City #1) by Kirsten Smith (Goodreads Author), Kurt Lustgarten, Naomi Franquiz (Illustrator), Brittany Peer (Illustrator)

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁

Misfit City’s pretty fun if you’re into that Gravity Falls/Lumberjanes/Scooby Doo mystery mood.

This diverse group of girls lives in a gloomy town somewhere in the Pacific Northwest, which is full of tourists who are obsessed with this cult movie known as “The Gloomies.” (I’ve never seen The Goonies but I guess that’s the reference??)

In short, girls (plus cute dog) find a treasure map and shenanigans happen. It’s fun and entertaining and I’d recommend it if you want a light mystery.

The colors are very dull in keeping with that moist, mysterious, gloomy feeling.

There were a couple of times where the action in the art was a tad hard to follow and I had to go back and double check to understand what had happened. I also couldn’t tell a couple of the characters apart at the start, but this improves as the story movies on.

I’ll definitely keep reading though, and not just because this volume ends in a cliffhanger!

Book Reviews

Wicked Plants: The Weed That Killed Lincoln’s Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart, Briony Morrow-Cribbs (Etchings), Jonathon Rosen (Drawings)

Wicked Plants- The Weed That Killed Lincoln's Mother and Other Botanical Atrocities by Amy Stewart, Briony Morrow-Cribbs (Etchings), Jonathon Rosen (Drawings)

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁🍁🍁

The weed that killed Lincoln’s mom is the second to last in the book. You’re welcome.

Wicked Plants is the kind of fun little book you can read in small bursts just to find out fun facts.

Each plant has its own illustration, plus at least three pages detailing how it is wicked (some of the categories are: deadly, illegal, destructive, etc), and this also includes the history of the plant’s evil deeds.

Sometimes it’ll be followed by a section of related plants with little paragraphs dedicated to each one, but there’s no illustrations for these.

It’s definitely NOT a field guide though. I would never recommend anyone use this as a guide out in the open because the information is super general and there’s no pictures in color.

Overall, it was fun, I’d recommend it if you’re curious.

Book Reviews

In A Glass Grotesquely by Richard Sala

In A Glass Grotesquely by Richard Sala

Rating: 🍁🍁🍁

In A Glass Grotesquely includes 4 short comics, the first one being the longest (more than half of the book), and the rest are only about 10 pages apiece?

Out of those last three, one didn’t have any words, and another only had one sentence per page, in the form of chapter names, letting you fill in the blanks by peeking through the extremely detailed artwork.

The first story is about a chaos-causing villain who is trying to make the world see itself, warts and all. I found it astoundingly politically relevant for 2018, even though this was published in 2014.

Besides that, I didn’t find this volume very memorable, especially in comparison to his other work. I’d read it if you’re already a fan of Richard Sala and just want to revisit the contents of his imagination. The colors were delightful as usual.