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Unusual retelling of the Dracula story,
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This review is from: Renfield: Slave of Dracula (Hardcover)
This is a reimagining of the Dracula story as told through the eyes of Renfield, the mental hospital inmate who is affected by the vampire and does his bidding. It is very true to the original story, even including parts of Bram Stoker's text, but seems more accessible to the modern reader, possibly because Barbara Hambly doesn't deal in black and white but in myriad shades of grey for her characters. It is the characterisation where the author excels and she has created some very realistic people embedded in a well researched Victorian world.
Renfield is mad. The story that unfolds leads us to believe that he has been mad for a very long time, even before Dracula gained influence over him. He believes that he can obtain the life force from other animals to rejuvenate himself and be reunited with his wife and daughter. As he struggles to be let free from the institution in which he is incarcerated, Renfield becomes Dracula's pawn, getting messages from his master via dreams. The brides of Dracula play a fuller role in this book than in the original and Renfield finds himself influenced by them too.
This is a story about madness and how the Victorians dealt with it. It is also a story about class and the power of money. In the end, however, it is the tale of one man's involvement in the supernatural world and what it costs him.
There are flaws in this book, the main one being the difficulty the reader has in identifying with Renfield and his situation because it is very far from our own. It is also useful, although not necessary, to have a knowledge of the original novel to appreciate fully all the twists and turns in Renfield's story. Nevertheless this is an interesting retelling of the Dracula story which I enjoyed very much.