Sunday, November 2, 2008

"The Dracula Dossier"

James Reese is the author of The Herculine Trilogy.

He applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Dracula Dossier, and reported the following:
On page 69 of The Dracula Dossier, the protagonist, Bram Stoker – yes, that Bram Stoker, author of Dracula – is midway through a letter to his good friend, the writer Thomas Henry Hall Caine. The two men have remained friends despite Caine’s status as the bestselling author of the day and Stoker’s abiding frustration at failing to publish anything of note. (Ironic that Stoker lives on today – not to mention his Count – while Caine is forgotten.)

The novel mirrors Dracula in structure: letters, journals, newspaper clippings, etc. And in this early letter Stoker is addressing the ennui, the domestic doldrums that will soon lead him to accept an invitation to a meeting of a secret, occult society, the Order of the Golden Dawn.

Alas, domestic life has come to seem naught but a circle of anger and apology, a circle set to turning, day in and day out, by the silence of all that is left unsaid. It verily leeches the life-blood from me…

Not the first allusion to blood in The Dracula Dossier, and not the last. In fact, the whole premise of the novel is a bloody one, predicated upon these What ifs?

What if Stoker did indeed accept the invitation of a friend (none other than Wm. Butler Yeats, in this case) and agreed to attend a meeting of the Golden Dawn?

What if, at this meeting – featuring certain rites and rituals of ancient Egypt – something went horribly wrong?

And what if all this led to Stoker’s becoming involved with one Francis Tumblety, formerly a close friend of Hall Caine’s and today’s primary suspect in the Jack the Ripper murders?

The Dracula Dossier supposes that the above actually happened – as indeed it could have – and further, that Stoker’s run-in with the Ripper became the basis of his immortal novel, written a few years later.

Page 69 also mentions another historical character in the book, Lady Jane Wilde, mother of Oscar, or As-car, as she puts it. Together with Caine and Lady Wilde, Stoker will set out after the Ripper.

There’s a whole lot of history in the novel, and the reader is led through some of it via footnotes (like the one on pp. 69) written by the fictional “Count de Ville,” finder of The Dracula Dossier; which – in good Gothic fashion – is Stoker’s “lost” journal of the year 1888.
Browse inside the Dracula Dossier, and learn more about the author and his work at James Reese's website.

Visit the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue