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Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Tales (Penguin Classics) [Paperback]

Bram Stoker , Kate Hebblethwaite

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Book Description

26 Oct 2006 Penguin Classics
Although Bram Stoker is best known for his world-famous novel Dracula, he also wrote many shorter works on the strange and the macabre. This collection, comprising Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories, a volume of spine-chilling short stories collected and published by Stoker's widow after his death, and The Lair of the White Worm, an intensely intriguing novel of myths, legends and unspeakable evil, demonstrate the full range of his horror writing. From the petrifying open tomb in 'Dracula's Guest' to the mental breakdown depicted in 'The Judge's House' and 'Crooken Sands', these terrifying tales of the uncanny explore the boundaries between life and death, known and unknown, animal and human, dream and reality.

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About the Author

Abraham "Bram" Stoker (1847-1912), Irish writer, best known for his vampire novel Dracula(1897). His other works include The Mystery of the Sea (1902), The Jewel of Seven Stars (1903), The Man (1905) and The Lair of the White Worm (1911).

Kate Hebblethwaite is a Research Fellow at Trinity College, Dublin. She whas published a number of articles on popular fiction authors of the nineteenth and twentieth century.


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When we started for our drive the sun was shining brightly on Munich,1 and the air was full of the joyousness of early summer. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Must-read for Stoker fans 21 July 2008
By A. Young - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Dracula being one of my favorite books, I was thrilled to find this collection of Bram Stoker's short stories. I enjoy horror writers who can provoke old-fashioned fright without relying too heavily on graphic details; while those details have a place, too many of them dampen a story. I was hoping that this collection would be as skillfully crafted as Dracula; I'm happy to say that this anthology mostly lived up to my expectations. While there's plenty of ghoulish tension throughout the book, these stories also provide moral lessons, cautionary tales, some hair-raising plot twists, and even a few happy anecdotes that keep the collection from feeling monolithic.

Disclaimer: I tried to keep the "spoilers" in this review to a minimum - that is, I did not include any details that you would not read within the first half of the stories. Read on if you want more information about each individual tale; otherwise, suffice it to say that fans of gothic horror writing will probably find this collection very enjoyable and worth a read.

"Dracula's Guest": A headstrong stranger faces danger when he does not heed the advice of the locals. I was glad I knew Dracula as well as I do when I started reading this selection because Stoker draws a lot of parallels to the opening scenes of his novel (a carriage ride, mountainous terrain, wolves, baleful weather, the dangers of Walpurgis Nacht), which made the reading experience feel rich and familiar.

"The Judge's House": A young man stays in a house with an unpleasant, angry past, much to the chagrin of the surrounding townsfolk. Again, Stoker points out the foolishness of willfully neglecting superstition/advice; I'll admit that this felt a bit predictable after "Dracula's Guest," but I still found myself enthralled with the narrative.

"The Squaw": A couple's honeymoon does not exactly go as planned. Some truly horrific events transpire in the few pages of this story, which is far and away the most disturbing, graphic tale in the book. I won't spoil it with any more details.

"The Secret of Growing Gold": A callous lover learns that he cannot bury his past. This one felt like the most conventional story for me, perhaps because it does deal with a jilted lover, which is one of the oldest themes in storytelling. Still, even in Stoker's most conventional stories, he has a good knack for maintaining a menacing enough tone that you want to keep reading.

"A Gipsy Prophecy": A young couple must figure out how to deal with a terribly upsetting prophecy they receive from a local gipsy. Kind of self-explanatory, but I liked this one quite a bit.

"The Coming of Abel Behenna": Two men and one woman find themselves embroiled in a fiercely competitive love triangle. I found the tone of this story more mocking and satiric than the other stories in the book, which was refreshing. Stoker condemns the fickleness of affection and the repercussions of jealousy while still weaving a ghastly story in the process.

"The Burial of the Rats": An early 1900s chase-scene set in fantastic, perilous circumstances. This story starts slowly but builds into a breakneck pace - I really enjoyed it by the end, and there are some fairly unsettling ideas brought together as the narrator runs for his life.

"A Dream of Red Hands": Two friends learn about the power of guilt and repentance. I realize that sounds like the plot of a Lifetime movie, but this story's a bit of a far cry from the straight horror genre, which I appreciated in this anthology.

"Crooken Sands": A man discovers that he is truly his own worst enemy. The protagonist's anticipated undoing is bred from his own pride; because of that, he will not stop his terrible fate even as he sees it coming to pass before his own eyes.

"Lair of the White Worm": A 120-page novella about a young man and his granduncle getting wrapped up in the mysteries surrounding the eccentric, inscrutable heir to a local estate and an equally puzzling woman. There's some stirring imagery and bizarre twists that keep the story relatively entertaining, but I had the hardest time getting into this of all the stories in the book; the narrative is very herky-jerky and the tone is uneven. The hallmark of a good horror story is that it seems real; what struck me most the first time I read Dracula was the chilling atmosphere and the characters' genuine terror as their understanding was shattered by the dark, demonic "other" they encountered in the book's nominal character. Sadly, I did not get any such feeling reading this selection, despite its seeming similarities to Stoker's novel; for one, the characters seem recover too quickly from the sickening events that transpire, which makes the story feel cursory and surreal. Not Stoker's best, but still worth a read for the frame of reference.

Despite the shortcomings of the final selection in the book, this collection is definitely worth reading. Highly recommended to fans of Dracula and/or gothic horror stories.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The ORIGINAL version of "Lair of the White Worm"! 6 Dec 2008
By A reader - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Dracula's Guest" is an excellent short story collection by the author of "Dracula". It includes at least a couple of absolute horror classics, such as the title story, "The Judge's House", and "The Squaw". Another reviewer has ably summarized the stories and I have nothing further to add.

Regarding the novel "The Lair of the White Worm" (also included in this volume), I have been familiar with this extremely strange work for many years. Imagine my shock when I received this book, and learned that I had never actually read Stoker's novel at all! The version of LotWW that has been standard for most of a century was actually chopped to pieces and many parts RE-WRITTEN by some anonymous writer after Stoker's death. No wonder people have always found the novel to be badly put together.

Well, OK, it's STILL badly put together. It was written while Stoker was dying, possibly of syphilis, and taking some weird medications. It's still a very strange performance. But I much prefer it to the thing that has been out there for 80 years masquerading as Stoker's book. If you've ever read that bastardized version before and hated it, you should at least give Stoker's actual book a chance and buy this edition.

An example: One Amazon reviewer of a different edition of LotWW totally trashed the book, and gave a sample of its hilariously badly-written dialogue. Well, guess what - Stoker didn't write that particular bit of dialogue. It doesn't appear in this edition at all. (Although I'll grant you that there are still plenty of other examples of hilariously badly-written dialogue in the book.)

Another example: There is an utterly outrageous scene in this version that I loved, but which is missing from the "standard" edition. In it, our intrepid heroes, for no convincing or even intelligible reason, have accepted an invitation to afternoon tea from their neighbor, Lady Arabella March - even while knowing that said Lady is, in reality, a gigantic prehistoric snake in human form (!) who desires to destroy them all. Well, the nice little Edwardian tea-party starts off all right, until Lady Arabella becomes frustrated by the failure of her attempts to cause her guests to slip and fall into a well in the cellar of her house (which is, in reality, an entrance to her subterranean lair). So she transforms herself into her true (monstrous) shape on the spot and furiously chases our heroes half way across England. (The latter are aided in their escape by the sudden re-appearance of a gigantic flock of pigeons that seems to follow one of the characters around for some mysterious reason.) Our heroes finally board a ship at Liverpool (apparently pre-arranged in some way that's never explained), but continue to be pursued into the Irish Sea by Lady Arabella (now a sea-serpent) until she/it finally gives up the chase. The next day, all parties involved simply return to their homes as though nothing at all had happened - Lady Arabella, in fact, sends a polite letter to the main character asking for his help in a business matter, and he just as politely agrees to help her! This scene, like much of the book, is as jaw-droppingly surrealistic and disjointed as a dream - but it is also highly entertaining, like something from a Monty Python film. I found it to be very funny, but I still can't decide whether Stoker meant it to be funny or not (I sure hope he did).

So just what the heck IS this novel, anyway? A product of senile and/or drug-addled dementia? A protracted exercise in the bizarre and grotesque humor that Stoker showed himself capable of in his short story "The Dualitists" (not included in this volume)? A rough draft that never got finished due to Stoker's final illness but was published anyway, perhaps for financial reasons? A little of each, I suspect. But whatever else LotWW is, nobody can deny that it is truly unique, especially in its original form. I can absolutely guarantee that you have never read anything else even remotely like it before.

PS - Also be careful with Stoker's interesting mummy novel, "The Jewel of Seven Stars". Once again, some hack (the same one?) re-wrote the ending of that book and completely ruined it, while also chopping out one chapter. If you want to read what Bram Stoker actually wrote, you should get the new Penguin Classics version of that novel as well.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dracula's Guest and Other Weird Stories will send chills down your spine in this splendid Penguin Edition 3 Aug 2009
By C. M Mills - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Bram Stoker was Dublin born but is best known for his fictional creation the evil Count Dracula whose digs were in Transylvania. Stoker (1847-1912) wrote several other novels and tales while enjoying the friendship of such stellar literary artists as Walt Whitman and Mark Twain. For years he served as the business manager for famous Shakespearean actor Sir Henry Irving (the first actor ever knighted!).
Following Stoker's death his widow collected the stories in this volume which also includes the novella "The Lair of the White Worm."
Dracula's Guest deals with a visitor to the land of Dracula who encounters a savage wolf, horrific weather and scares aplenty on the way to the Count's residence. This material was deleted from the completed Dracula novel but is still spookily atmospheric
The Judge's House deals with a young student prepping for his tripos who rents an out of the way home once owned by a hanging judge. The lad is confronted by horrific rats including one which looks just like the deceased judge. This one is a Halloween Eve story worth reading.
The Squaw is a gruesome story which raised the angry nettles of those of us who are cat lovers! A bumptious America is visiting Nuremberg. The man accidently kills a kitten making mother cat very angry. This cat pursues and punishes the man for his cruelty. This is one you will not soon forget!
The Story of the Growing Gold deals the revenge of a murdered wife on her husband who has remarried. Shades of a Grimm fairy tale in this excursion into the horrible. The "gold" refers to the first wife's hair which grows and grows and grows bringing with it a dire judgment on evil!
A Gipsy Prophecy: The story occurs when a young couple are honeymooning. The gipsy predicts the husband will murder his bride. Read this strange tale to see how it is resolved!
The Coming of Abel Behenna: This tale deals with a love triangle among denizens of rural Great Britain. It has many twists and turns making it worthy of a Twilight Zone plot.
The Burial Rats is a story of life among the poverty stricken veterans of the Napoleonic Wars who seek to rob and murder the first person narrator. Rats human and animal abound in a chilling tale of pursuit.
A Dream of Red Hands deals with the redemption of Jacob who killed the man in love with his Mabel. He repents and saves a friend from a
bizzare death.
Crooken Sands deals with a fatuous old London merchant who insists on dressing in Scottish kilts on a holiday in Scotland. He is almost sucked to his death by quicksand.
The Lair of the White Worm deals with a woman named Arabella who is in reality a snake who has lived thousands of years. She is a murderer as she reeks havoc in a quiet English community until she is defeated by the narrator Adam Salter. The story is unrealistic; displays misogynyistic and racial stereotypes and is not a success.
Bram Stoker was a fin de siecle author who will be remembered for his masterpiece "Dracula." Those who enjoy his work, Gothic and Horror fiction will enjoy this volume.
3.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten Stories 6 Sep 2012
By Acute Observer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Dracula's Guest, Bram Stoker

This collection of nine short stories was first published in 1914. "Dracula's Guest" was omitted from "Dracula" due to the length of the book, the other stories were previously published. Most were in the public domain by 1978. These provide a sample of his writings.

"Dracula's Ghost" takes place in Munich. A traveler goes for a ride on Walpurgis Eve, and stops at a crossroads. The driver is scared. They hear the bark of a wolf. There was a long-abandoned village nearby. The Englishman isn't frightened so he walked there. The air became cold and snow fell; then a torrent of hailstones. Can he be rescued in time?
"The Judge's House" is about a student who travels to an unknown place where he can study for his school examinations. He found a house for rent that the locals avoided. Are there rats in this old house? Was it a mistake to stay there?
"The Squaw" tells about Stoker's travel to Nurnberg with his wife Amelia. They met an American couple there, and they all visited the Torture Tower. Elias accidentally killed a kitten. What can its mother do?

"The Secret of the Growing Gold" is the story of two old families, Brent and Delandre. Margaret Delandre married Geoffrey Brent, and perished on a trip to France. Was it an accident? What if Margaret survived? Would she take revenge?
"The Gipsy Prophecy" starts when Joshua Considine and Dr. Gerald Burleigh visit a gipsy camp after dinner. Joshua is given an amazing prophecy! He tells his wife Mary. Mary visits this camp and gets a similar warning. Will this prophecy about blood on hands come true?
"The Coming of Abel Behanna" takes place in a small Cornish fishing village by the sea. The prettiest girl in town is loved by two men, and she can't decide. Her mother had a scheme to benefit Sarah. A coin is tossed to decide the winner. He will travel for business then wed Sarah after a year (if he returns). What if he doesn't return on schedule?

"The Burial of the Rats" tells of rag-pickers in Paris. The writer explains his travels. Should a rich stranger walk into the lairs of the poor and desperate? Can he escape robbery and death, his body thrown to the rats for disposal? Will he ever see Alice again?
"A Dream of Red Hands" takes place in the country. A neighbor suffers from nightmares. Jacob tells what happened many years ago, an act that haunts him. Is he doomed? Years later the writer came across Jacob again; he was not "red-handed".
"Crooken Sands" are part of Crooken Bay in Scotland, a summer vacation resort. Arthur Markam brought his family there, and chose to dress in Highland Tartan like an actor on a stage. His family laughed at this. No one in the village dressed like that in living memory. He visited the bay and found danger in the incoming tide. Markam saw a man dressed just like him, a Döppleganger or a mirage?
5.0 out of 5 stars An eerie surprise 29 Nov 2008
By GG Gawain - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
If you liked Dracula, you will like this book. It begins with Dracula's Guest which was cut from the original Dracula manuscript, not because it was inferior but it simply was its own story. It is a strange tale that I actually served up to my English class to illustrate the delivery of mood and tone to cause fear in the reader. The rest of the stories are equally odd and imaginative, reminding me of Guy de Maupassant's twisted imagery bordering on the surreal with ghosts haunting lonely beaches, rats in walls, and dead men floating on the ocean to haunt a killer. "The Burial of the Rats" is one of the most terrifying stories I have ever read, taking place in the dust piles of Paris, behind the city where they take the trash. People live there--strange and dangerous people. It's also one of the few books where you get Lair of the White Worm, which I understand was written at the time Stoker was losing his mind.
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