I’m slipping this post in out of order – I usually like to cover books in order of reading them! – as I wanted to flag up this lovely little book which recently arrived from Renard Press. It’s appropriate reading for the increasingly darker nights, and makes a wonderful adjuct to a much-loved classic. The book is “Dracula’s Guest” by Bram Stoker, and it has an interesting history!

This short work was first published in 1914 after Stoker’s death in 1912. His widow, Florence, collected together a number of short works which she published as “Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories”, stating in her preface that the title work was a “hitherto unpublished episode from Dracula … originally excised owing to the length of the book”. Here, the story is presented as a standalone work, with the usual excellent supporting material from Renard, and it makes fascinating reading.

“Dracula” itself opens with entries from Jonathan Harker’s journal as he makes his way to meet the mysterious Count. However, “Dracula’s Guest” is posited as a possible pre-opening, and features an unnamed narrator (presumably Harker) making an unexpected stop in a graveyard on Walpurgis Night and having some rather unnerving encounters… More than this I cannot say, but the story ends with a hint as to what will follow…

“Guest…” itself is quite a chilling little work which definitely captures the spooky and menacing surrounds in which Harker finds himself. It would have made an interesting opening to the main work and might perhaps have changed a reader’s perception as to what was to come. The Renard edition also reproduces the published opening of “Dracula” so that you can compare the two and consider the effect that “Guest” would have had on your reading of the book had it been inserted.

As usual with Renard, there’s supporting material in the form of information about Stoker himself, and all of this adds up to a nice little volume which certainly enhances a reading of “Dracula” and also makes a shivery short work in its own right. I’m a huge fan of Stoker’s masterpiece, and I do believe that the various films etc which have come after it really don’t do it justice. “Dracula’s Guest” is a fascinating addition to that work and definitely worth tracking down if you’re a fan too. Now I just have to decide whether I’m going to shelve it with my Renard collection or next to my edition of Dracula… 🙄🙄