R. Chetwynd-Hayes - Dracula's Children (William Kimber, 1987)
Prologue Dracula's Wives from "Dracula By Bram Stoker Introduction
Irma Rudolph Zena Cuthbert Marcus Benjamin
The two "Dracula" books (the other being The House Of Dracula) are typical of his work for Kimber and are perhaps best described as unmistakenly the work of R. Chetwynd-Hayes - with all that entails.
The Draculain Genealogical Table is a manky variant on the Monsteral Table in The Monster Club (the RCH book this most resembles), for example. His 'playful' 'sense of humour' does tend to detract from his work - like I'm one to talk - as demonstrated in the strong, horrible Zena and Cuthbert.
Irma: The Countess von Henzen, daughter of Dracula, employs womaniser Michel Adler to procure girls for her - or rather, one in particular. the shy, virginal Joanna Harker of Branfield Down. Joanna is predestined through her tainted blood to become a vampire. When the unthinkable happens and Adler falls madly in love with his prey and she with him, the Countess shows her mettle. She steals the girl's body and soul, seducing lover boy in Joanna's form, revealing her true identity at the last. Adler is allowed to leave with the chilling warning that in 24 hours 'the pack' will be let loose on him. 'The pack, it later transpires, "drive around in a black car when they are not loping along pavements or chasing things over fields" and feast on human flesh. Perhaps the most notable character is the Countess's maid, the limping zombie, Diana, who proves to be a very passionate bedroom partner as corpses go.
Rudolph: Hopelessly disillusioned with life, Lauren Benfield, 37, unexpectedly lands the strange but well-paid position as cook and general factotum to Count Rudolph, whose menu never varies from pig's blood, rich mince and 'blood sausage'.It is immediately apparent to the reader that Rudolph is undead, but his behaviour is peculiar even for the species. We learn from young Janice, his niece, that he's "ashamed" of being what he is, the son of the Vampire King."He won't partake from the neck or even intake vital essence from a bottle.... That's why he looks so weird. And all he's got to do is imbibe once - and, oh boy, you'll see the difference. He almost gives way when I get to work on him but no way. I don't mind slap bot and fumble but no give with the vital. Well, it wouldn't be decent." Spurred on by Janice, the Count's resistance crumples and his victim, poor Laura, gives birth to his demon offspring. So he turns her out and sets 'the pack' on her.
Zena:"Zena had gone out. She must have done. Therefore it stood to reason that now was the time to escape .... Keep running and maybe find someone who would believe that Dracula's daughter had grown up in a few hours by turning poor Edward into a stamping, hair covered ball with four legs. It shouldn't sound too fantastic if told in the right way."
Willfully bizarre account of what happens when the childless Edward and Mary Robinson adopt a 'vampling', Zena, a 180 year-old immortal in the body of a child. This one succeeds as a decent horror story almost despite itself (in other words, I enjoyed it) and the human into "roly-poly ball' episode and Zena's revelation of what will now happen to Edward take some forgetting.
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. - Christine Campbell Thomson