Thursday, September 14, 2006

Renfield - Barbara Hambly

Slave of Dracula
Barbara Hambly


From his cell at Rushbrook Asylum, Ryland Renfield observes the actions of those around him. He senses the approach of a powerful presence; one he misidentifies at first as the great god Wotan, from Norse mythology. By the time he realizes his error, he’s completely in thrall to his Master, Dracula. Through His eyes, Renfield watches the slow, torturous death of the beautiful Lucy, and the effects of her death on those around her. One of those affected is Dr. Seward, who runs the asylum. Naturally, it’s impossible for Renfield, as an inmate given to consuming insects, to make Seward understand the truth about what is happening.

When Mina Harker arrives with her husband Jonathan, Renfield fears for her life, too. He knows his Master wants Mina to replace Lucy, released from her undead state by those who loved her. In order to try and save Mina, Renfield makes a pact with the Three Sisters, wives of Dracula, who hold little love for their Master after so many years. The deal he made doesn’t turn out quite as he planned, but it puts him in position to help the wives and the mortals try to stop the Lord of Darkness.

This is Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” as told through Renfield’s journals, ruminations, and letters to his beloved wife and daughter. Interspersed with these ruminations are omniscient narrative passages and a few passages from other characters’ points of view. These bits round out the story nicely. Readers familiar with the tale of Dracula will enjoy this new perspective on an oft-told tale. Putting an imprisoned character on center stage, necessarily moves some of the action off-stage, but this is all handled quite well. Renfield, as an individual, has a story to tell, and his surprisingly sympathetic story has a few twists and turns that Stoker probably never imagined. Some of the twists change the original tale a bit, but the author makes it work beautifully. If you’re a fan of the original, or just enjoy vampire fiction, you won’t want to miss this one.

Rating: 8
September 2006
0-425-21168-1 (hardcover)


Post a Comment

<< Home