Jan 11, 2009

Renfield: Slave of Dracula - Review

Renfield: Slave of Dracula by Barbara Hambly. Berkley, 2006.

For the most part Hambly's novel parallels Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) but she adds some interesting twists of her own. She tells the story through the eyes of Renfield. Stoker portrayed him as a pathetic character who spent his days in an asylum feeding on insects, spiders, and rats when not raving about the coming of his Master.

But in this telling he is an intelligent but delusional man who believes that Dracula, his master, will give him the power he needs to return to his wife Catherine and their daughter Vixie. Renfield constantly writes to Catherine whom he believes lives in hiding from her malicious, controlling mother and sister. Through passionate letters he assures her that soon they will be together again. All of Stoker's characters make an appearance here - John Seward who runs the asylum where Renfield languishes; Jonathan Harker who recently escaped from the dread clutches of Dracula; Abraham Van Helsing, Dr Seward's mentor and the one person who recognizes the cause of Lucy Westenra's illness; Lucy Westenra, Dracula's first victim in England; and Mina Harker, the woman whose courage helps Van Helsing and Lucy's suitors track down the dread Count and destroy him. Hambly is a superb story teller and does an excellent job with this alternate view of the Dracula story.

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