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.

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.

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.

The Complete Daughters of Shadow and Blood Trilogy is $9.99 for the Month of October

Daughters of Shadow and Blood – The Complete Trilogy is on sale at Amazon for $9.99 for the month of October. Follow the link to get the e-book box set today!

Buda, Ottoman Hungary, 1599: Yasamin, the naïve daughter of an Ottoman bureaucrat, finds herself trapped in an arranged marriage to the son of the powerful governor of Buda. She is unprepared for the gossip and scheming rampant in the palace but realized she faces more than petty jealousies when someone tries to drown her in the baths the day before her wedding.

Gračanica. Kosovo, 1689: Elena, an Albanian peasant girl, has sacrificed her own future to keep her family from starving, but one horrific night they are taken from her, murdered by monsters out of her nightmares. Even seeking refuge at the nearby monastery, though, is not enough to keep the creatures that stalk the night at bay.

Berlin, Germany, 1878: Lady Elizabeth James, the neglected wife of a British diplomat, receives a disturbing reminder of her past—a calling card bearing her father’s name. But he disappeared ten years earlier, and Elizabeth believes him dead. A murder at the British embassy raises even more questions about her father, and she is soon caught up in a hunt across the city for a brazen killer.

They became known as the Brides of Dracula. You know his story. Now read theirs.

‘Sherlock’ Team Reuniting for New ‘Dracula’ Series

“Dracula” is getting the “Sherlock” treatment, with the writers and producers of the hit BBC detective series reuniting for a new take on the Bram Stoker vampire classic. Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat will write the series, and Sue Vertue’s Hartswood Films will produce.

Fingers crossed. Please let it be good. Please let it be good. Please let it be good.

Courtesy of Variety.

Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth is Available Now!

Buy: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Apple iBooks

The last volume in the saga of the Brides of Dracula is finally here. Get your copy of Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth today!

Berlin, Germany, 1878: Lady Elizabeth James, the neglected wife of a British diplomat, receives a disturbing reminder of her past—a calling card bearing her father’s name. But he disappeared ten years earlier, and Elizabeth believes him dead. When a murder at the British embassy raises even more questions about her father, Elizabeth finds a number of unlikely allies, including an American named Thomas Parson, a self-styled vampire hunter. She becomes embroiled in an intrigue involving fortunetellers, assassins, and foreign spies, but dark forces threaten her at every turn, and as she discovers, even friends harbor deadly secrets.

Bucharest, Romania, 1999: Adam Mire reels at the abduction of his one-time love, Clara MacIntosh. Left with the admonition to “work faster,” Adam knows he’ll only see Clara again if he can find Dracula’s infamous medallion. Using the clues he’s pieced together, he follows a bloody trail across Romania, but Clara’s time is running out.

Meanwhile, Clara finds herself in a secluded manor house, the captive of a man both seductive and terrifying. Plagued by dreams of Elizabeth’s life in Berlin, Clara works to uncover her mysterious host’s agenda. However, she soon realizes both she and Adam are pawns in the schemes of all three of Dracula’s Brides, and to stop them, someone will have to make the ultimate sacrifice.

 

Read a Free Excerpt from Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth (Part 4)

In anticipation of the upcoming release of Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth I am releasing a free excerpt once a week until release day on June 1, 2017. This is Part 4. Read Part 1, Part 2 , and Part 3 here. I hope you enjoy! Please share and order your copy today!

FOUR

Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina

2 December 1999

Adam paced the study of the safe house like a caged tiger. Arkady Danilovich Markov, special agent for the Russian Orthodox Church, sat in one of the chairs, staring sullenly out the window. Inspector Nikola Gavrilović of the Sarajevo Police sat in the other chair, his fingertips pressed together.

“I’m beginning to share Clara’s opinion of your ‘safe’ houses,” Adam snapped at the Russian.

“So am I, for what it’s worth,” Arkady replied.

“How exactly does something like this happen?” Adam asked. “It was almost dawn. And this place, it has a threshold. A vampire shouldn’t have been able to cross.”

“Humans can, though. If a vampire had helpers like Stjepan did …” Inspector Gavrilović offered.

Stjepan, going by the name of Dragomir, was the three-hundred-year-old vampire leader of the Chetniks, a Serbian ultranationalist organization that had been after Dracula’s medallion. To complicate matters, he was also Elena’s former lover. Yasamin. Elena. A hard lump formed in the pit of Adam’s stomach. In Dracula, there were three brides.

“Also remember, a strong enough vampire can tolerate sunlight for a short amount of time,” Inspector Gavrilović continued, “especially at sunrise, when the light is not too strong. That’s one thing Bram Stoker got right.”
“In any event,” Arkady added, “Greta’s wounds could also have been made by something other than a vampire.”

Adam shook his head. “We didn’t find any blood.”

Arkady shrugged. “She could have been killed some-where else and brought here.”

Adam narrowed his eyes. “So what are you saying? You don’t think there are any vampires involved in this? Need I remind you what is pained on the wall downstairs?”

Arkady sighed. “What I’m saying is that we don’t know. Jumping to conclusions could get us killed. Or Clara.”

“So what do you suggest we do?”

“Inspector Gavrilović and I will work our contacts for now, and you should do what the note said, work faster.”

“That’s it? Clara is in danger. She could be anywhere now.” Adam plumbed the depths of his rage. “You could at least act like you care.”

Arkady shot up from the chair, his face suddenly red, his teeth clenched. “Do not ever question me again about that.” His face fell, and he sat back down. “I care. I’m just responsible for keeping you from doing something stupid.”

Adam grabbed his coat and headed for the door.

“What are you doing?” Arkady asked.

“Something stupid,” Adam replied. “I’m going for a walk. I need some air.”

“You really shouldn’t,” the inspector said, “until we know what we’re facing—”

Adam jabbed a finger in the inspector’s direction. “Don’t you start, too. I’ll be back before dark, and then I’ll ‘work faster.’”

He slammed the door behind him a little harder than he intended. Outside the air was crisp, but there was no breeze, so he found the cold bearable. He put one foot in front of the other without giving much thought to where he was going. Arkady’s new safe house, where they had moved after the first one was compromised, was in Sarajevo’s Stari Grad, or Old City. The streets were narrow, and buildings crowded the sidewalk. A few hardy tourists strolled about, admiring the store windows decorated for Christmas.

Adam was busy thinking about the books, running through possibilities in his mind. He didn’t understand how he was supposed to “work faster.” He was no closer to solving the clues to the whereabouts of the medallion than when he has started. And yet he had to wonder if he had missed something. A simple golden trinket couldn’t have caused so much death.

Lost in thought, Adam wandered from the shopping district and onto a residential street lined with trees. The sun went behind the clouds, and the temperature dropped. On the other side of the street, a couple walked. Something seemed odd about them, but Adam couldn’t place his finger on it.

As they drew closer, Adam slowed, trying to get a better look. They were huddled against the cold. The man covered his chin and mouth with a scarf. Only his eyes remained visible. The woman’s blond hair peeked from underneath her fur hat. She wore a scarf as well, but left her mouth and nose exposed. As they passed, she turned her head to look at him.

Adam held his breath. He flashed back to the beautiful Russian agent who had saved his life months earlier. Her name had been Anya, and she was dead, a fact that still gnawed at him.

After the couple passed, Adam craned his neck to watch them retreat. When they were some distance away, the sun came out again from behind the clouds, and the air warmed, at least a little. The woman didn’t show any signs of recognizing him. Still something unsettled Adam. He decided to return to the safe house.

Read a Free Excerpt from Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth (Part 3)

In anticipation of the upcoming release of Daughters of Shadow and Blood – Book III: Elizabeth I am releasing a free excerpt once a week until release day on June 1, 2017. This is Part 3. Read Part 1 and Part 2 here. I hope you enjoy! Please share and order your copy today!

THREE

Near Berlin, Germany

6 June 1878

The bump in the road jolted Elizabeth awake. The slow rocking of the carriage and the rhythm of the horses’ hooves had lulled her to sleep. She looked out the window and immediately knew something was wrong. Even the light of the full moon wasn’t enough to penetrate the murky woods crowding the road on either side. Friedrich, the driver, had said they would make Berlin by sundown.

She leaned out as far as she dared and called to him. “Friedrich, where are we?”
He didn’t answer.

“Friedrich, is something wrong? Shouldn’t we be in Berlin by now?”

Again no answer.

Elizabeth tried one last time. “Friedrich, are we lost?”

At that moment, she caught a glimpse of something in the woods out of the corner of her eye, something that worried her more than Friedrich’s failure to answer. A few seconds later, it appeared again, a shadow, darker than the darkness itself, keeping pace with the carriage. It was following them, and it wasn’t the only one. All around her, yips and hoots pierced the night, and then a full-throated howl. The horses whinnied. The carriage lurched. Friedrich struggled to keep it under control.

The wolf howled again, joined by others this time. The carriage pitched to one side and then the other as the horses panicked. Friedrich fought as hard as he could to keep them from bolting, but ultimately lost. The carriage careened to the left and crashed onto its side.

Elizabeth lay there momentarily, listening to the horses’ hooves as they galloped away. Something warm and wet ran down her cheek. She winced when she reached up to touch it.

Elizabeth twisted herself around until she could stand. With some effort, she managed to push open the door on the side of the carriage facing up, and with even more effort, more than Elizabeth thought she was capable of, she lifted herself out of the overturned vehicle.

The horses were gone, and there was no sign of Friedrich. Elizabeth gingerly placed a foot on the carriage’s running board in order to climb down, but the barks and the yips returned. All around her in the woods, pairs of yellow eyes glowed. Emerging from the dimly lit tree line, a dozen smoke-grey wolves surrounded the ruined carriage. Teeth bared and growling, they inched toward her, making the circle smaller and smaller.

The largest lunged at her, catching the hem of her dress in its teeth. It tried to pull her off the carriage, but her dress tore, and the animal fell back. Elizabeth fell, too, and almost met her end at the jaws of another wolf taking the opportunity to spring at her. Sooner or later, one of them would succeed in pulling her down.

A gunshot shattered the night. The wolves broke rank, turning their attention from her. A moment later, another gunshot sent the pack scattering back into the woods. Elizabeth looked in the direction of the shots to see three men on coal-black horses emerge from the darkness. Gypsies.

The one in front barked something in a language she didn’t understand, and the three of them stopped. The leader dismounted and walked toward her. His piercing green eyes and long nose gave his face a hawk-like appearance, even over an ample brown mustache. At the base of the carriage, he made a dramatic bow and offered his hand to her. Elizabeth slipped her hand in his, and he helped her down off the carriage.

“Are you all right, my lady?” he asked in strangely accented German.

“Yes,” Elizabeth replied in her own tentative German. “Thank you for scaring off the wolves.”

The man smiled. “I simply could not let you be devoured. It would have been ungentlemanly.” His smile melted away, replaced by a look of concern. He reached up to touch her cheek. “My lady, we must get you some help. You have been hurt.”

“It’s just a scratch,” Elizabeth said.

The man shook his head. “No, our camp is not far from here. I insist that you come with us. We’ll have someone look at it there.”

He helped her onto the back of his horse. They followed the road for a while, then without warning turned off into the undergrowth. The Gypsy’s companions did the same. Startled, Elizabeth clutched the man’s midsection. She could feel his compact and powerful muscles as he guided the horse over a trail she never would have seen on her own. They wound their way deeper into the woods, into a world completely foreign to Elizabeth. The moon shown down in patches through the trees, spotlighting odd vignettes—a half-fallen tree with its branches turned to grow upward toward the sky, a thicket of shrubs with bright red berries, a massive oak tree with branches so heavy, they almost touched the ground. Unfamiliar sounds filled the air around her, too—not the night noises of the city, but crickets, owls, and bats.

The nearly invisible trail reminded Elizabeth of the stories her father used to tell her about fairy roads in England that appeared and disappeared without warning. If a hapless traveler took one of them, he would find himself in a different realm entirely, where the fairies ruled and where our world’s rules of logic held no sway. Only a very few ever came back from that world.

Soon, an orange glow emerged from the darkness ahead. They came upon a clearing where the Gypsies had set up camp. The man dismounted and helped Elizabeth off the horse. He walked over to a group of women and spoke to them in the same language he had used with the men earlier.

A few minutes later, he returned and spoke to her in his accented German, “Magda will show you where you can sleep tonight. Tomorrow, we will take you into the city.”

“Thank you,” Elizabeth said again.

He took her hand and kissed it. “I would not be a man if I did not give aid to a beautiful woman in distress.”

As he turned to walk away she called after him. “Wait. I have to know your name. Please.”

“Alexej,” he replied before disappearing among the others in the camp.

A plump older woman led her to a small tent with blankets and pillows, and almost immediately, someone thrust a cup of some hot liquid into her hands. It smelled like cloves and honey. Elizabeth sipped while the Gypsy woman carefully dabbed the blood from her cheek with a cloth soaked in warm water. She stayed up listening to the Gypsy music as they played their instruments and sang in their peculiar language. She drifted to sleep with the music’s rhythms running through her head.

 

“Lady James.”

Elizabeth woke with a start. She looked up to see Friedrich’s concerned face from where she still lay in the overturned carriage. The sky overhead was several shades lighter than she remembered.

“Lady James,” Friedrich repeated. “Don’t worry. Help has arrived.”