Bram Stoker’s Horror Classic is Steeped in the Anxieties of his Age

Bram Stoker’s interest in the macabre seems to have been with him from his youth. While at Trinity College, Dublin, he became a member of the University’s Philosophical Society, and the first paper he presented was “Sensationalism in Fiction and Society.” After graduation, he worked as a theater critic for the Dublin Evening Mail. The paper was owned by Sheridan Le Fanu, who ended up being a far larger influence on Stoker’s creative life a few years later. It was Le Fanu’s story Carmilla, about a female vampire preying on a lonely woman, which seems to lay the groundwork for the vampire fiction after it, most directly Stoker’s famous novel.

Courtesy of Tor.com.

Hoia Baciu: Inside the creepiest forest in Transylvania

We are in The Clearing. The trees stop in a uniform oval where nothing grows and where, since official records began, nothing has grown. “Once when I came here,” says Alex, our guide, “I found 60 people from Bucharest trying to open a gate into another dimension.”

I set a significant scene in Daughters of Shadow and Blood here.

Courtesy of The Independent.

Five Mythical Monsters From the Edges of the Map

The season of ghouls and goblins upon us, and the monsters that show up often reflect our fear of the unknown. Across the street, my neighbors drape orange lights around tattered black clothes that stream from ghoulish skeletal masks. Pumpkins appear carved to reflect a kind of hunger that speaks to nature: We will all be devoured by the plants. The monsters in our culture that are most common, I think, involve ideas like “undeath” (which sounds like it isn’t such a bad deal if you can stomach a little murder) and afterlife entities like ghosts. Frankenstein’s monster and his bride are reconstituted dead bodies. Many of our modern monsters and monstrous frights involve the unknown, and for us, that means death.

Courtesy of Tor.com.

A cycling tour of the Balkans: two wheels, three countries, four days

Rocking my bike from side to side, I crested the final rise and the landscape opened out before me. A high-altitude meadow freckled with cows rolled down into a shallow bowl surrounded by savagely contorted, parallel slabs of limestone sticking straight up from the earth. Beyond was 2,523-metre Bobotov Kuk, the highest point in Montenegro’s wondrous Unesco-listed Durmitor national park. Behind me were yet more staggering views, across glacial lakes to rows of mountain peaks, deep river gorges and pine forests populated by wild cats, bears and wolves.

Courtesy of The Guardian.

Vampires, Ghosts, and the ‘Dark Shadows’ Beauty Pageants of the Early 1970s

Today’s pop-culture landscape is rotten with stories about melodramatic, brooding vampires and their supernatural love affairs. But back in the 1960s and ’70s, those narratives belonged almost exclusively to the soap opera Dark Shadows. Near the end of its run, the series had become such an institution that it spawned a pair of Dark Shadows feature films (not to be confused with the 2012 Johnny Depp reboot), and to promote them, the producers staged what might have been the first ever nationwide spooky beauty pageants.

Courtesy of Atlas Obscura.

A Trip to Transylvania, Without the Bite

Romanian friends told us this area of medieval villages and fortified churches had little to do with the fiction of “Dracula,” yet the night was turning into a vampirish cliché. In his 1897 novel, the Irish writer Bram Stoker described the Carpathian pass as “an imaginative whirlpool” where every known superstition gathered. I saw how he might get that idea.

Courtesy of the Wall Street Journal.

In Search of the Balkan Soul

Thodoris Nikolaou has spent the last three years — and counting — crisscrossing the Balkan Peninsula to create a visual mosaic of the region’s people and their stories. But for Mr. Nikolaou, the project, called “…Balkaniotheque” and sponsored by the Onassis Foundation, became more than a multifaceted look at the region. It has been a search for his very identity.

Courtesy of the New York Times.

This Goth-Filled Seaside Town Inspired ‘Dracula’

Every October, the English seaside town of Whitby transforms into a page taken right out of a Bram Stoker novel.

All types of subcultures—from goths clad in 19th-century corsets and bustles to steampunks sporting vintage flying goggles—descend on this quiet port for Whitby Goth Weekend, the United Kingdom’s largest goth event.

You can see Whitby Abbey in the background of Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth.

Courtesy of National Geographic Australia.