Lisa Morton – Children of the Long Night: The battlefields of Ypres; Josef Mengele's pathology laboratory at Auschwitz; 10050 Ceilo drive in the immediate aftermath of the Manson murders. The evils of mankind have taken their toll on Dracula's sanity. He now operates from a derelict theatre on Skid Row, preying upon vagrants and wino's. The police believe they've a run-of-the-mill maniacal serial killer to contend with, but Lucy Westenra knows otherwise and it is in her interests to stop him. Lucy (vampirised by Bram Stoker!) recruits Detective Jackson to help hunt down and destroy the love of her Unlife. Especially recommended to fans of Les Daniels' Don Sebastian as a glimpse of what might have been had the author persevered with the chronicles beyond the Indian Mutiny.
Terry Lamsley - Volunteers: 'Dr. O'Cooler,' now a housebound invalid, enters into conspiracy with rapist Mr. Strope to ensnare Sylvia the unpaid home-help. Strope has a thing for big 'n bouncy women, Dracula, incapacitated, is reliant on home deliveries. Lucky for Sylvia, she too has a forbidden appetite, and strikes a mutually beneficial deal with the vampire. Reads like a mischievous E.C. morality play - and you really don't want to look in that bathroom.
Joel Lane – Your European Son: Schreck is landlord to Wren, a minor player on the Birmingham crime scene. Slowly the vampire turns him, until Wren must decide between joining the Undead or slitting his wrists while sweet oblivion is still an option. Story doubles as a critique of the authors favourite/ least favourite dark rock acts: Lou Reed (who, Schreck implies, is a vampire), the Velvet Underground, Joy Division, The Cure ("They don't express despair, they fabricate it as a life-style option. Entertainment"), Bowie. Doubtless says much for my appalling taste that I far preferred Children Of The Long Night and Volunteers.
From the first, I set myself against "literature"; the story was the thing, and no amount of style could persuade me to select a story that lacked genuine, unadulterated horror. For those who wanted something high-brow there was plenty.
I revisited this, read a few tales I must have skipped the first time, browsed others, skipped some.
I thought the effort to bridge the often so different tales through a kind of narrative was a bit forced. Not that it was a bad job, but I found it hard to believe to suspend my disbelief. When you know that this story was written in the 70s and that in 40s, it kind of defies the effort.
Of the stories I read the only ones which made an impression were Fowler and McAuley.
Stories on the subjects of books, I am easy to please, I guess. So Dracula's Library is a gem for me, even if I have to admit that it is a bit plotless.
McAuley's The Worst Place in the World now is a grim piece. Both the plot and the setting are a strange hybrid of pulpness and heart of darknessy. You can debate debate if it really works, Dracula as mercenary-leader in some african civil-war, but it was an original idea, and McAuley understands that Dracula as a character always works best when seen at a distance.
I may be biased, though, as I am a huge fan of McAuley's work for Stephen Jones. I love his stories about the enigmatic London ghost hunter Mr. Carlyle and would have wished for more. Or a collection. I re-read them quite a few times, which I seldom do.
Some other stories I disliked. I thought Nancy Holder's Blood Freak unsatisfying, same of Mandy Slater's Daddy's Little Girl.