Hey there horror fans, I’m Jessica Avery and I’ll be delivering your weekly brief of all that’s ghastly and grim in the world of Horror. Whether you’re looking for a backlist book that will give you the willies, a terrifying new release, or the latest in horror community news, you’ll find it here in The Fright Stuff.
Today in The Fright Stuff, we’re wishing a fond (early) Happy Birthday to one of the great classics of the horror genre: Dracula. That’s right! Bram Stoker’s legendary vampire novel was first published on May 26, 1897, which was 125 years ago this Thursday. Dracula wasn’t the first novel of its kind, of course, being preceded by such vampiric classics as LeFanu’s Carmilla (published serially from 1871 to 1872) and of course John William Polidori’s The Vampyre (1819)— a literary progeny of one fateful, infamous, and rainy Genevan summer three years prior. But Stoker’s epistolary style, riffing on the Victorian fondness for travel accounts and the macabre, created something incendiary that lives long in the memory of its readers.
And its viewers! Over the course of the history of cinema and television, hundreds of films and tv shows have adapted Stoker’s novel in one form or another, paying homage to the towering literary figure that is The Count. From black and white legends like Lugosi, to the technicolor gore of Hammer Horror, to the multitudinous modern adaptations with their varying degrees of faithfulness to or deviation from the text.
Books, films, shows, graphic novels, even an email subscription service that will deliver chapters of Dracula to your inbox in real time (have you signed up for Dracula Daily yet?); this beloved novel, which remains a genuinely creepy read, is as undying as the man himself. So today we pay tribute to the vampire host with the most, by celebrating some of the many wonderful books that would not have been given (eternal) life without him.
Children of the Night: Dracula Adaptations
A Dowry of Blood by S.T. Gibson
If you’ve been reading The Fright Stuff for a little while, chances are you’re familiar with my deep and abiding love for S.T. Gibson’s Dowry of Blood, a queer, polyamorous retelling of the origin of Dracula’s brides. This gorgeously Gothic book is one of my hands down favorite adaptations of Stoker’s novel, and if you haven’t read it yet get ready, because it’s being re-released in hardcover this October, complete with a ravishing new cover.
The Route of Ice & Salt by José Luis Zárate
Speaking of favorite adaptations, last year Innsmouth Free Press released the first English translation of Mexican author José Luis Zárate’s cult Dracula adaptation centered around the captain of the Demeter and his ill-fated crew. Like A Dowry of Blood, The Route of Ice & Salt is another gloriously queer retelling, and Zárate’s beautiful prose shines in the hands of David Bowles careful translation.
Reluctant Immortals by Gwendolyn Kiste (August 23)
There are almost criminal depths to which I would sink to get my hands on a copy of this book. Truly. But for now I’ll just (im)patiently sit on my hands and wait for my copy of Kiste’s forthcoming joint retelling of Dracula and Jane Eyre to arrive. That’s right, Reluctant Immortals is two Gothic adaptations for the price of one as Lucy Westenra and Bertha Mason, two of literature’s most done wrong by women, set out to free themselves at last from the men who tried to destroy them.
The New Vampires on the Block
Certain Dark Things by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
One of the most unique vampire novels I’ve had the pleasure of reading, Moreno-Garcia’s Certain Dark Things is praised for, among other things, its rich worldbuilding and fascinatingly varied vampire culture. In Mexico City, street kid Domingo is just trying to survive when he meets vampire-on-the-run Atl. Atl is the descendent of Aztec blood drinkers, on the run from a rival vampire clan. Their meeting happens by chance, but as time goes on, the two find themselves working together to escape the dark streets with their lives (life and un-life?) intact.
Vampires Never Get Old ed. by Zoraida Córdova and Natalie C. Parker
You know I never miss the chance to include an anthology if I can squeeze it in, and I’m telling you: if you want a bloody, hungry, fascinating look at where vampire horror is headed in the hands of a new generation of writers, Vampires Never Get Old needs to be on your reading list. Twelve talented YA authors have teamed up to bring you eleven exciting and innovative stories, leaving their own fang marks on the Vampire mythos.
Youngblood by Sasha Laurens (July 19)
Yet another forthcoming summer vampire pre-order for your TBR! Youngblood has been on my ordering list since it first crossed my radar, which was well before that ridiculously GORGEOUS illustrated cover was released and stole my heart. If teen vampires and vampire boarding schools are your jam, Youngblood is the book for you! Two young vampires from different walks of (un)life take on classism, conservative values, and a dangerous conspiracy as they try to solve the murder of one of their classmates and end up uncovering a dark secret at the heart of Vampirdom itself.
Don’t forget you can get three free audiobooks at Audiobooks.com with a free trial!
Fresh From the Skeleton’s Mouth
Speaking of Vampires Never Get Old: Netflix has released the trailer for their new queer teen vampire movie First Kill, based on V.E. Schwab’s short story of the same name. And it looks fangtabulous!
Already read Hailey Piper’s (Stoker Award winning!) Queen of Teeth and find that you’re still hungry for more vagina monster fun? To celebrate her very much deserved win at this year’s Stoker Awards, Piper has teamed up with Nightfire to bring you an all new deleted scene featuring everyone’s favorite toothy vaginal beastie, Magenta.
As always, you can catch me on twitter at @JtheBookworm, where I try to keep up on all that’s new and frightening.