Ricardo Delgado’s illustrated novel Dracula of Transylvania is not only full of blood, guts, monsters and gore, but chock-full of history and references to art. It’s a great addition to the Dracula lore.
The novel, which is just under 600 pages, is very atmospheric. Pages upon pages go into elaborate, dark detail on things like Dracula’s dungeon, or his library. The ornate, enthusiastic prose includes many interesting and unique descriptions. It opens not in the late 1800s, but in the year 333. Centuries of history go into the novel, with real people like Emperor Constantine and Nostradamus finding themselves as characters who help flesh out the story. There are many footnotes about historical and artistic references. There are also some sections that just go into the history of a time or area to help people better picture it. It’s a little adjective-heavy at the beginning, but the writing continues to improve until it become its own sumptuous, unique style.
Many of the original characters are there — Jonathan, Mina, Quincy, Lucy, van Helsing, etc., and they’re all brought vividly to life. They’re not all exactly the same as the original Stoker novel, but they’re not so different as to be untrue to the original creations. For example, Quincy’s colorful idiocy brings many moments of humor, and van Helsing is still very knowledgeable but more approachable. The female characters, especially Mina and Dracula’s brides, become much more important and actualized characters. The brides have finally been given names — Petra, Venus and Andromeda — as well as feelings and back stories. In fact, the reason why Dracula is after the people in England is clever and well explained, giving new meaning. Some answers are also given for questions a person might have from Stoker’s book, like how Jonathan successfully escaped. Sometimes the book goes into epistolatory sections, a nice homage to the original, and each person has different handwriting, which is a good touch. Most of the book, however, is written in third person as it moves from character to character.
One of the things that’s really nice about Dracula of Transylvania is that while some things are changed, it’s clear there is so much respect for the source material. This isn’t someone coming in to “fix” Dracula — this is someone who loves Dracula so much he can’t help come up with more stories around it. The story leads up to an intense culmination, pulling readers in more and more on this sinister adventure.
Delgado is a conceptual designer in Hollywood known for his art, and this is where the illustrated part of the illustrated novel comes in. Almost all of the book is prose, but there are a few illustrations thrown in here and there, and then at the back there is a whole section of colored art. More artwork that didn’t make it into the book was published in The Art of Dracula of Transylvania. This is a great book for fans of Dracula, horror, vampires or monster stories in general and who want to be swept away into a whole new world with them.