Dracul: An Eternal Love Story

Dracul: An Eternal Love Story
Review by The Mad Bibliographer, submitted on 29-Oct-1998

A version of this review appears in The Vampire's Crypt 18 (Fall 1998). The Vampire's Crypt web site is: http://members.aol.com/MLCVamp/vampcrpt.htm

Nancy Kilpatrick. Dracul: An Eternal Love Story. San Diego: Lucard Publishing, October 1998; 217 pp. (trade paper); ISBN 0-9655492-0-1; $19.95; CD ISBN 0-9655492-1-X; $19.95; book and CD set, $34.90. Available from Lucard Publishing, 650 Columbia #311, San Diego, CA 92101; Ph/Fax 619-235-6789 or toll-free 1-888-869-9092 Ext. 151; http://www.dracula.com; Internet: lucard_AT_home.com. Novel excerpt at http://www.sff.net/people/NancyK/nanwrite.htm.

DRACUL is the novelization of a musical inspired by, yes, Bram Stoker's classic novel DRACULA. Jonathan Harker is home from a grueling trip to Transylvania, where he sold Carfax Abbey to a "filthy rich" but "peculiar" old count. Soon after his return, charming but flighty Lucy Westenra falls ill. Her former fiance Dr. Jack Seward can do nothing to help her, and he asks the assistance of his old teacher Dr. van Helsing. Jack cannot know, and van Helsing cannot explain, that Lucy's illness is no common disease but the mark of an unnatural predator -- a creature that must drink blood to survive and whose bite can damn his victim's soul.

Mina Murray, Jonathan's fiancee, is having second thoughts about marrying the sweet and supportive but indescribably stodgy Jonathan. Into the breach steps their new neighbor, Count Vlad de Dracul. He is struck by Mina's resemblance to his much-loved long- dead wife. For her he feels a passion that is more than desire for blood, and because of his gentle fierceness and inner pain, Mina grows to love him as well. But although he feels more for her than bloodlust, he cannot resist that beast. Soon he must choose between killing her or making him a bloodthirsty, undying creature like himself....

DRACUL is heavy with bittersweet romance: In addition to the predictable (now cliched) Mina-Dracul mutual attraction, Kilpatrick's adaptation focuses on Lucy and Jack's never-realized feelings toward each other. Also (again predictably) changed from DRACULA are the glimpses of Dracul himself: his past as a human warlord, his transformation to a creature of anger and bloodthirst, and finally the passion and gentleness he rediscovers when Mina brings back memories of his long-ago love. These aspects give the novelization a depth more appropriate to (and more easily realized in) print as opposed to the stage. The Count's betrayal of Lucy, however, reveals an unsavory side, balancing the scales against whatever kindness he may show Mina.

A couple of the gimmicks -- Dracul's gift of a music box to Mina, and the painting of his long-gone Helene -- may bring unwelcome memories of the Dan Curtis vehicles DARK SHADOWS and the Palance DRACULA. But in fairness to Thomas G. Muehlbauer (the creative force behind DRACUL), a stage musical is a medium of sight and sound: images and melodies woven into the plot are far less intrusive in DRACUL's original form than would be the case in a book written as such from scratch.

I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the 19-track CD, which plays for slightly over an hour. The songs are lively, the lyrics vivid; some of the tunes beg for dancing. "Splendid," Lucy's farewell to the beautiful life she has known, is a celebration of vigor and pride: the bare words on the page don't begin to express the feeling that Danielle Forsgren puts into her performance as she sings, "All of my splendid moments / Taken away." An almost hypnotic wildness suffuses Mina's "Sweet Sinfonia" as she sings, "Fly me away / Give me the chance to dream." Dracul's "Love Will Live Again" balances anger and rapture as he vows, "I won't be robbed again / Be damned the cost / I know what I intend." (The finale is an instrumental reprise of this.)

The front of the novel suggests that it can stand on its own or be treated as "an extensive libretto." Although Kilpatrick has done an admirable job of expanding on the bare script, revealing characters' thoughts and motives as a stage production never could, the tone of the novelization seemed (to me, at least) very different from that of the music -- perhaps simply because prose, however artful, is not and cannot be music, and the printed lyrics are not even pale ghosts of what voice and melody can make them. The two are different worlds that overlap but never truly meld, and that is the nature of the media.

Because the CD has songs only and not narrative, it doesn't stand well as a story on its own -- it needs a libretto, or something, to make it complete. And although the novelization stands adequately on its own, the plot's compactness betrays its stage origins: it, too, needs some filling out. And perhaps that is all as it should be. DRACUL started out as a musical, spoken word balanced against sung; lacking the means to market it as a video, the producers have done the next best thing, giving the story in its medium and the songs in theirs and letting us combine them (or not!) as we prefer.

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From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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