Bram Stoker’s Dracula (1897) has come to personify what many imagine a “real” vampire must be like: an undead creature who lives on human blood; prefers to make his rounds at night; has superhuman strength; casts no reflection in a mirror; hates garlic; fears crosses and holy water; and can change into a bat, a wolf, or mist at will. Even though these traits are familiar, and countless films have been made about Count Dracula, Stoker’s powerfully written novel still rouses fear in even the most jaded heart. Through the journals, diaries, and letters of those besieged by this evil count, the horror builds as Dracula’s plan to move his stronghold from Transylvania to Victorian England and create a new “unlife” for himself, seems unstoppable.
In the first part of the story solicitor Jonathan Harker finds himself a prisoner in the count’s castle. Among the inhabitants are three ghostly women who are themselves vampires and seek to drink the blood of Jonathan. They almost succeed after first seducing him with their abundant charms. Not long after, Dracula travels to England. His first victim there is Lucy Westenra, but his most important victim is Mina, the lovely lady who eventually becomes Jonathan’s wife. Mina has shared blood with Dracula and welcomed his dark kiss.
Although in many respects Dracula is portrayed as a monster, he is more importantly a master seducer. His hypnotic eyes easily draw The element of seduction plays an important part in many modern day romances. Even Dracula has had a metamorphoses. The Count as played by Frank Langella had many women swooning and fantasizing about baring a neck for a handsome stranger.
Today’s writers of the paranormal often combine a vampire protagonist with themes of romance. In Stoker’s novel vampires are monsters who can find salvation only when destroyed, but now novelists portray the humanity that lies within the vampire’s soul. Thus it is possible for them to be heroes or heroines, albeit with supernatural powers and the enviable ability not to age. Authors can use their wonderful gift of imagination to conjure up all sorts of nosferatu and in the process create stories and a wide variety of characters whose common traits are a sanguinary diet, phenomenal strength, and unlike Stoker’s Dracula (with his lean and hungry look along with ugly, hairy palms), they are eternally good looking. There are exceptions, of course, but this is fantasy after all, and why not project what many of us would like for ourselves.
Here are some reading matter that might be of interest: Charlaine Harris writes the very popular Sookie Stackhouse mysteries (inspiration for HBO series True Blood). Sookie lives in a small Louisiana town, helps solve crimes, and has a very close relationship with Eric, a tall, blond, hunky vampire; Twilight, the popular series by Stephenie Meyer focuses on the love between Bella and Edward (who belongs to the supremely gorgeous Cullen family); Amanda Ashley describes her vampire romances thus, “This is the realm of shadows, of dark and dangerous men who haunt the night, their eyes burning with need and desire. Men who will lure you into places you might be wiser not to go, men who can promise to love you forever…and make good on that promise.” If you like your vampire stories a little darker and mixed with a bit of humor read Alex Bledsoe’s Blood Groove or Staked by Jeremy Lewis. The list goes on forever, sort of like vampires.
Written by Patricia Altner