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Review: Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories by Bram Stoker

Published after his death, these stories are presented as a selection of Stoker’s short works of horror and madness. Most of them were published in small papers and serials, but would’ve passed another edit if he’d had the time before death. The first story lends its name to the title and was a chapter included in the original text of Dracula, but was ultimately cut during the editing process. Proceeding from there, the stories are a variety of gory, horrific, and surprising tales of mayhem and madness.

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What is Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories about?

Published posthumously, this collection contains multiple stories that were initially published in papers and other sources but could have used a bit more polishing before being fully published, something Stoker’s widow says he would have done if he could. The first story is naturally Dracula’s Guest, but not all of the stories feature the vampiric legend Stoker is known for. Stories range from ghostly encounters to prophecies fulfilled in unusual manners, from intriguing and horrific to just boring and gory.

Genre: Short Horror Stories

These stories are all in some manner based on horror. Some of them have ironic or relatively cheerful endings, others boast extreme gore and terrible events.

Contents

  • “Dracula’s Guest” – a deleted scene from the novel Dracula
  • “The Judge’s House”
  • “The Squaw” – this one was…a lot for me to handle
  • “The Secret of the Growing Gold” – this one really reminds me of Bluebeard meets “The Tell-Tale Heart”
  • “The Gipsy Prophecy” – despite the racist slur in the title, this one turned out to be my favorite story
  • “The Coming of Abel Behenna”
  • “The Burial of the Rats”
  • “A Dream of Red Hands”
  • “Crooken Sands”

Themes: Horror, Shock Value

Though the idea of writing horror for shock value probably wasn’t as important to Stoker, some of these stories certainly come across in that manner. “The Squaw” in particular made me sick at least twice, not even counting the uncomfortable nature of the title (which is a reference to the American character’s encounter with an American Indian woman).

The Good

I did find it interesting to read something by Stoker that wasn’t Dracula, even if the first story is from the beginning of that novel. I noticed that his voice as a horror writer wasn’t quite as well developed in some of the stories, and I do wish that the publication info of each had also been included to give a better idea of the chronology of his works. I’m sure with research I could find that information but that’s more than I’m willing to do for this.

The Okay

I didn’t care for all the stories. I didn’t even really read the last three, I found they were so over saturated in wordiness that I skimmed through them and don’t really remember what they were about.

The Bad

I didn’t care for some of the stories due to the nature of the “horror” as it was presented. I thought “The Judge’s House” was mildly interesting, and “The Gipsy Prophecy” entertaining. But “The Squaw” did sicken me with the gratuitous descriptions of gore. Additionally, there were a lot of themes of jealousy and resentment towards women/romantic interests and I wasn’t really on board with that.

Final Thoughts

I was largely disappointed by these stories. They started off strong, and I did enjoy seeing a bit more of the Dracula story to begin with. But between the shock value nature of the horror and the frustratingly dull stories included in this collection I just wasn’t as enchanted by Stoker’s writing as I had expected to be. Even with the foreword warning that Stoker would likely have polished these stories a bit more before releasing them again, I was expecting better.

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By Catherine

I'm a lover of books, coffee, wine, and bees. Happy to join the ranks of book bloggers everywhere!

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