Renfield Slave of Dracula – Book Review

Pegasus Girl BOOK REVIEW:
Feb 05, 2007

Renfield Slave of Dracula
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“Mr. Renfield, your family – and you yourself – have been assured that there’s nothing to fear from me or from anyone else at Rushbrook House [Insane Asylum]. Why do you flee?” [Dr. Seward]
Under the dripping brows, the muck-plastered hair, the dark blue gaze was calm and altogether sane. “My question,” Renfield replied, “is, Why do you not?”

Barbara Hambly’s newest novel, Renfield: Slave of Dracula, is a can’t-put-it-down-until-you’re-finished thrill ride through 19th century England. It’s a twist on the classic tale of Bram Stoker’s Dracula – in this version, we get the story from Ryland Renfield’s point of view. The story begins with Renfield locked away in an English asylum, and though it is clear from the beginning that Renfield is not quite like the rest of mankind, the reader is left wondering if he truly belongs in the sanitarium. (About halfway through the book, there is a revelation which clears up any questions the reader may have had.) When Dracula leaves Transylvania and heads to England in search of a new bride, he calls on his servant Renfield to guard his path – but Renfield’s mind rebels against serving an evil master, one who would only repay his servant’s hard work with pain and humiliation, and he desperately hopes for a way to escape his horrible fate.

Everyone’s favorite characters are here just as we remember them – the poor Jonathan, who escapes from Dracula’s clutches; Renfield (of course!); Lucy; Van Helsing; the beautiful and seductive vampire Wives, and the demon himself, Count Dracula. Though the beginning of the book was a bit confusing to me, with seemingly unrelated characters writing letters and keeping journals, Hambly did a wonderful job of pulling it all together rather quickly, with the ties between characters becoming clear as the story progresses. It’s a 300+ page book, and I literally found myself so keen on reading the next page that I finished in two short days. Though it would probably be listed in the “horror” genre, it is written with a gentle hand that shields readers from the more grotesque aspects of the story. For me, it was even better than the original.

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