Thursday, February 21, 2013

JD's Review of 'The Dracula Chronicles: Bound by Blood Vol. 1'




Shane O’Neill’s ‘The Dracula Chronicles’ is an ambitious project. O’Neill combines elements of the traditional Dracula story with chunks of Goethe’s ‘Faust’ and positions his tale against an epic historical backdrop. 

This Dracula is literally a child of Hell, acting both as the central protagonist but also as a pawn of the fallen Lucifer. Waging war against the forces of Heaven, the Devil is playing a long game against his immortal Adversary as he employs the damned Voivode to bring about the downfall of the Catholic Church.

The author cleverly intertwines the fictional vampire and his psychopathic family with actual persons and events from European history, ranging from Machiavelli and the Medicis to Martin Luther. In doing so he subtly (and sometimes not so subtly) re-writes several of the critical episodes of the fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. This is a difficult balancing act, but it is handled with skill and imagination and, might I say, not a little panache. 

O’Neill acknowledges one or two ‘leaps of faith’/distortions in his methodology, but he peppers the novel with enough real historical research to give the reader a proper history lesson, as well as a slanted one. He is, for instance, one of the few re-tellers of the Dracula story to recount (correctly) that the real-life ‘Impaler’ ruled over Wallachia, not Transylvania.

The writing is visceral as befits the brutality of the age. Some of the violence and rapine may make the more sensitive reader wince, but the context is undoubtedly correct. As one might expect there is lots of sex, gore and medieval cruelty. This is NOT a vampire story sanitised for the ‘Twilight’ generation, but a tale of hatred and revenge, and of the struggle between the powers of Light and Darkness.

Volume 1 of the ‘Chronicles’ begins with a brilliant description of the aftermath of the Battle of Snagov in 1476 and ends with the stirrings of the Reformation. I am eager to see where Shane O’Neill’s restless mind takes us with Volume 2, and which specific historical happenings will provide further fodder for this bold re-imagining of the Dracula legend.


Available for Kindle at Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk FREE from 22-24 February 2013

Follow Shane O'Neill on Twitter @ShaneKPONeill





9 comments:

  1. Compliments on a great review, JD... Will want to read this one for the 'historical slant' and for the 'struggle between the powers of Light and Darkness.' Thanks.

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  2. Thanks, BR. Grab it while it's free!

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  3. Great review John, you certainly have a talent for this.

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  4. Thank you, Athena, that's most kind.

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  5. JD, you might be interested in a bizarre coincidence. On 12-21-12 I published Book One of my Dracula Chronicles, the "Son of the Dragon". There will be 6 - 8 volumes in total. I was born near Dracula's birth place in Transylvania, so I write with a bit of an "inside perspective". Unlike the book you reviewed above, mine is grounded in history, based on a four decade research. Before you conclude it must be a sober history lesson, I hasten to point out that is not the case. Vlad's life is depicted as a "hero's journey" that my readers claim is a compelling read. You might wish to check out the reviews I have been getting on amazon.com (USA). Should you want more details about the book, please visit my home page at www.draculachronicles.com You may contact me for a free pdf version at victor@draculachronicles.com You can find my book as well on Amazon UK by searching for Victor T Foia. Perhaps my book will offer you the opportunity for a comparative analysis your readers would enjoy. Best wishes, Victor

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    1. Hi Victor, and thanks for the comments. You have a very stylish website by the way!
      I'm sure you are not intending to criticise Mr O'Neill's book as not being 'grounded in history' - although I am sure he would freely admit his is a horror entertainment, not a history textbook. I am not personally familiar with Wallachian history, but I do know something of the Medicis and Martin Luther, and the way O'Neill interleaves his own narrative with that of the period is cleverly done.
      I wish you all success with your own ambitious endeavour. From what I observe the market for Dracula/vampire books is fiercely competitive and requires not only good writing but a great deal of stamina and perseverance.
      I see you have already collected some fine reviews for your novel. Thank you for the offer of a free review copy but I fear if I pile any more books in my reviewing in-tray at present my desk will not cope with the strain...
      Thanks again for your contribution.
      Very best regards,
      John

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  7. Hi, John, Thank you for your considerate reply and for your compliments regarding my site. As for criticizing another author's work, I have never done it, nor do I intend to ever do it. I might have expressed myself a bit inadequately, and I apologize for that. I should have said, perhaps, "anchored in history", for what I meant was that I do not use fantasy as part of my narrative. So, mine is not a vampire book, but a book about the man who spawned the most enduring vampire legend.
    I completely understand your lack of interest in reading yet one more "Vlad the Impaler" story.
    I thank you for taking the time to glance at my site. I had not expected any reply, and you surprised me by not only providing one, but also by visiting the site. I much respect your professional attitude.
    Best wishes to you, Victor

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  8. Hi Victor. It's OK, I realise you weren't criticising the other author.
    Next time I want to read an historical novel though be sure I will come and look you up!
    Kindest regards,
    John

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