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The Mammoth Book of Dracula
edited by Stephen Jones
Constable & Robinson, 553 pages

The Mammoth Book of Dracula
Stephen Jones
Stephen Jones is the winner of multiple World Fantasy Awards, the Horror Writers Association Bram Stoker Award and International Horror Guild Awards, British Fantasy Awards and a Hugo Award nominee. A full-time columnist, television producer/director and genre movie publicist and consultant, Stephen Jones is also one of Britain's most acclaimed anthologists of horror and dark fantasy. He has edited and written more than 100 books, including: Shadows Over Innsmouth; Exorcisms and Ecstasies, a Karl Edward Wagner collection; and Clive Barker's A-Z of Horror. He is co-editor of a number of series including Best New Horror, Dark Terrors and Dark Voices. He lives in London, England.

Stephen Jones Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: Visitants
SF Site Review: Zombie Apocalypse!
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 21
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of the Best of Best New Horror
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 20
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 19
SF Site Review: H.P. Lovecraft In Britain
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #18
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Monsters
SF Site Review: The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror #17
SF Site Review: Shadows Over Innsmouth
SF Site Review: Dark Terrors 5
SF Site Review: White of the Moon
SF Site Review: Dark of the Night

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Sandra Scholes

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Editor Stephen Jones, who has by now edited over 100 titles wondered if it was necessary to produce another bunch of vampire stories as the bookshelves were already teeming with them already. As we are in the grip of vampire fever with the new Twilight movies looming over us, and True Blood on TV, plus other vampire novels coming out of the woodwork, he might say yes, and to be honest, many will agree.

Vampires are a part of us. They are the dark side within all of us. Who wouldn't want to have special powers, be able to live forever and keep looking young even though we might be over a hundred years old. Vampires, like werewolves and Frankenstein's monster have a special place in our hearts, and Dracula is the crown prince of all vampires. Since Bram Stoker penned his 1877 novel, it has been the basis for a whole host of writers who enjoyed its sinister premise, the characters and its dark outlook on life. But most of all, Dracula remained one of the best villain icons ever created; he is dashing, sensual, and acts the perfect gentleman, but get him on his own and the victim will see a different side to him, a more carnal, lustful side -- then like a king cobra, he strikes; now you are caught by him, his to be seduced, maybe cast aside, or made one of his brides.

In The Mammoth Book of Dracula, there are plenty of stories to stir the soul, starting with a transcript of Bram Stoker's original play he created in 1897 especially for the theatre. After that, as they say, anything goes, and with the sheer volume of writers here, there is no room for doubt; the stories in this compendium of the undead have many settings, the past, the present and the near future.

Many of the stories are from some of the most famous horror and fantasy authors; Ramsay Campbell, Kim Newman, Brian Lumley, Charlaine Harris, Nancy Kilpatrick, Graham Masterton and Christopher Fowler.

Stephen Jones has the stories linked together with italic paragraphs stating where the next story will take the reader.

"Dracula's Library," by Christopher Fowler

This story continues where Bram Stoker's left off, with Jonathan Harker being allowed to look around Dracula's Castle of his own free will. On his journey, he comes across Dracula's Library where he feels most at home. The sheer volume of books causes him to spend a great deal of time there, resulting in hours of consulting each volume, and losing track of time. Dracula is delighted with his enthusiasm, allowing him to take further interest.

For most of the story, Dracula leaves him alone to trawl through the huge stacks of books, so highly erotic, and others more sedate. Maps of the Transylvanian area are somewhere, but what Dracula has in store for Jonathan isn't what readers will expect, yet they will like the outcome.

"The Heart of Count Dracula, Descendant of Attila, Scourge of God," by Thomas Ligotti

This stands as one of the shortest stories in the entire book at two pages, but it is as gripping as its length is not. Dracula at this point finds Mina Murray, and can't believe how deeply he has fallen in love with her. He can't understand how he can fall for her, yet she is unlike any woman he has ever met.

Thomas Ligotti turns the count into a reluctant lover, after living his life conquering the Turks as Vlad the Impaler, he finds himself stunned that he, Count Dracula, has been conquered by love.

"Daddy's Little Girl," by Mandy Slater

A young woman boards a train in London, and has moments of alone time broken by the presence of a man in the same carriage. He is well-known in society circles, loved and hated by many, and he wants her deeply. She isn't interested in him or his company, and he finds she isn't as compliant as he had hoped.

"Daddy's Little Girl" is one of those tales that leaves the reader with a sense of satisfaction. It has a nice twist at the end as two of the most notorious men in both fiction and real-life meet in the story.

"Convention," by Ramsey Campbell

At the beginning, Ramsay Campbell shows the husband coming back home and watching his wife who lay waiting for him, yet looks can be deceiving, as can the plot. He weaves a compelling short story, an unusual length for Ramsay Campbell, but when the reader gets into it, they will realise it only needed to be short to get the message across of the terror one man can feel when faced by his own evil. It is guaranteed to leave a sense of fear and dread with the reader.

"Teaserama," by Nancy Kilpatrick

With this story, Dracula has come into a more modern age of erotica, and self-fulfilment through sex and, in doing so, finds a more interesting subject to fall for than his Mina. The woman who interests him is the kind he never thought about, the seductive, empowered type who knows what it is in life she wants, and more importantly, how to get it. She isn't egotistical though, she has a simplistic beauty he finds deeply arousing, and when the reader finds out who she is, they will instantly remember a bygone age of photography.

"Coppola's Dracula," by Kim Newman

This is one of the longest stories in the book, some could described it as a novella. It contains the Kate Reed character that was created by Bram Stoker, but never used. She is a background character. The story can be read from a different perspective as a script for a modern Dracula movie, and as part of Kim Newman's re-imagined rerun of what Coppola as director would be like.

"A Taste of Culture," by Jan Edwards

Now it's back to one of the shorter stories again with a vampire who thinks he has seen it all, and done it all, and for whom there is nothing else that might delight him, until he stumbles into the English streets and comes across a rather delicious young woman who might yet satisfy his lust for blood. This one leaves a lasting impression on the mind. Even if it is a bit too short, it is definitely sweet.

"Rudolph," by R. Chetwynd-Hayes

Rudolph is not the sort of man anyone would want to mess with in person. But Miss Benfield does when she becomes his live-in helper. He tells her what he likes, and gives her plenty of money to do it, but he is very clear on the house rules. This story is something comical, sometimes erotic but it has R.Chetwynd-Hayes's wit and charm written all over it.

"Roadkill," by Graham Masterton

Dracula is a much different man over the ages, he has seen countless wars, people dying all around him and, as the ages have dawned for him, he tries to keep out of sight, choosing to live in the cellar of what was once his home. Since then, all his belongings had been stolen as others had thought the house derelict and unoccupied. Masterton injects some good-hearted humour into the end of the tale that is very welcome.

"Black Beads," by John Gordon

A burglar needs no other means than a good enough opportunity. When one arises, his lover only has him get her one thing, a string of black beads, the kind Victorian women used to wear. He is only too pleased to oblige her, but has no idea of the danger that lurks in the house even when he gets there. This has an eerie feeling to it that lingers, and the description of the characters does too.

There are more stories in this anthology, so feel free to explore the book for some of the most haunting, peculiar and unusual fiction this year.

Copyright © 2011 Sandra Scholes

Sandra Scholes likes to re arrange her house Feng Shui style, but hasn't the time to read up on the Three Killings bit. When she's actually doing something she's reviewing for the following magazines and websites: Love Vampires, Love Romance Passion, Romance at Heart magazine, Active Anime and Vampire Romance Books.


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