Greetings, readers, and welcome to the last of our Halloween Boozy Books specials, featuring some of the best of horror literature. First, we profiled Dorian Gray and his ghastly portrait, then Dr. Frankenstein and his Creation; last week, we delved into the dichotomy of good and evil with Jekyll and Hyde, complete with Absinthe (because what kind of Halloween would it be without the Green Fairy). So, it can come as no shock that the final novel we have chosen to pair is none other than the mack daddy of vampire tales: Dracula, by Bram Stoker. Yeah…there will be no sparkling here…Just the Destructor of womanly virtue and unholy beast.
Now, in case you forgot from the Frankenstein post, Dracula is not actually the first vampire story to be published in the modern age–that honor actually belongs to Polidori, with his story “The Vampyre”–but it is arguably the most famous. In fact, Dracula effectively defined the modern vampire; even those stories that want to get away from the “monstrous” vampire and play-up the Byronic hero aspects (with varying degrees of success, mind) of the trope are using Dracula as the heart of their definition. So…ultimately Stoker is to blame for the ridiculous number of vampire movies, TV shows, comic books, novels, etc. Way to go, Stoker. We’re hitting vampire overload, you unrepentant genius!
(Note: I want more werewolves. I really quite enjoy them. But not sexy tiemz werewolves a la waaaaaay too many romance novels out there (and melodramatic TV shows that I’m glad are over). You know, I quite enjoy Gail Carriger’s werewolves. I know they’re not unique to her, but I enjoy them nonetheless. It probably helps that Conall is one of my favorite names. I do a lot of research into Irish myth, guys. Probably way more than is healthy. Anyway, moving on. But…once more…WEREWOLVES.)
Right. I think a lot of people know the story of Dracula, but let’s go over it for those of you who don’t. Dracula is from Transylvania. Brief Latin lesson. Transylvania means “across the forest”, or “on the other side of the forest”. Back when it was under Roman rule, Romania (of which Transylvania is a part) was part of Dacia (or maybe Moesia…maps are not my thing, but I’m pretty sure it’s Dacia). Why do I know this and, more importantly, why am I telling you? Because I’ve spent the entire month of October researching stuff like this for a novel I’m not even working on next month, and my entire world is Ancient Rome, Ancient Ireland, and Ancient Germany right now…with some Mesopotamia for good measure. I’m not even sure I remember what I chose to pair this novel with. Hopefully I remember it as I type. Anyway…there you go for a brief piece of historical trivia.
Dracula, of course, is based upon Vlad the Impaler, so named because he impaled a LOT of people. It was his go-to punishment. Now, those of you who have seen that recent and GOD AWFUL movie might be saying now that he learned the technique from the Ottomans…and this is true. But impaling was like drawing and quartering; it was reserved for very special occasions or to make an impression. Vlad would punish people who looked at him the wrong way by impaling them. He basically ethnically cleansed his own country. Also, Mehmet defeated him, not the other way around. Way to go, Hollywood. This is almost as bad as Braveheart!
Wait. I’m supposed to be writing about the novel. Get a grip, C. Anyway, Dracula wants to invade England so he can find new blood and spread vampirism around the world! Like Frankenstein, it is a novel told in epistolary form, using not only letters, but diary entries, newspaper clippings, etc. There isn’t a single narrator, but the individual items all collect to form the narrative. And boy what a narrative it is.
Let’s do this. This is where I wish I could draw, so I could just do a comic version of this. But, alas…
Dracula goes to England, leaving Jonathan Harker in his castle to be torn apart by the sisters, three vampire ladies we have decided in latter years to call Dracula’s brides. Harker escapes and makes his way back to England, but doesn’t arrive until Lucy Westenra, a beautiful lady with three suitors, is turned into a vampire and has to be hunted down. This vampire thing happens despite the efforts of all three of her suitors and the great Abraham van Helsing, who is the only one of them who knows anything about vampires at all. Once Harker gets back to England he and his wife, Mina, join the fight against Dracula. But Dracula knows van Helsing is moving against him, so he attacks Mina, giving her some of his blood so he can control her. This backfires badly because Mina has visions of him (her righteousness battling the corruption of the vampire’s blood), leading the group to ultimately be able to destroy Dracula by consecrating his coffins and then stabbing him in the heart. One of the suitors dies heroically and is rewarded for his efforts by being Harker and Mina’s son’s namesake.
The comic would have been more fun, because I could have drawn Renfield eating bugs in order to gain their essence, as well as the picture I have in my head of Lord Godalming, who has a brilliant mustache. For the record, van Helsing looks nothing like Wolverine.
Now! I have, in fact, remembered what we decided to pair with this novel. We focused on the dichotomy of Mina Harker, who was at once pure and corrupt due to the efforts of Dracula. There is a lot of speculation about the nature of Mina and her relationship to the New Woman of the time, at once powerful and scandalous. Mina is an important force in the story; she is arguably the reason the men are able to kill Dracula in the first place, bravely facing down her visions and leading everyone to the beast. But she is also impure at this part of the story, only returning to purity when she can settle down and be wife and mother. Whether Stoker was writing an indictment of the New Woman or not is up for debate, as well as what Dracula himself represents. Seriously…some people think there’s latent homosexuality there, some think the story is an indictment of Oscar Wilde, some think the story is pro-Catholicism, and some think Dracula represents unrepentant capitalism. Dracula is a lot of things to a lot of different people.
But, anyway, dichotomy. That’s what we focused on with the drink. So we decided on mixing a Bloody Mary with a Margarita, the sugar and the spice lingering together in one drink. A suggests floating the Margarita into the Bloody Mary, but I think just blending it all together is much easier and achieves a more complicated mouth feel. Just go with whatever floats your boat. No pun intended. (Really.) But if taking the time to float something seems like work, here’s a recipe to just blend it all together.
Anyway! That’s it! I apologize again for the history ramble. This is what happens when I spend a month doing research. What I’m going to do during NaNo, I’m not sure. Maybe it’ll be time for A to return the favor and write a few extra posts…
Have a happy Halloween! Be safe, have fun, and remember…the veil is thin, so be sure to watch out for mischievous spirits!
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