Summary: Ravaged by the Nazi Secret Service during World War II, Romanian resistance forces turn to one of their leaders, Professor Van Helsing for any way out. To fight these monstrous forces, Van Helsing raises a legendary monster from centuries of slumber... Prince Dracula himself.
Once he was the ruler of Transylvania. Prince Vlad Dracul, is, above all else, a patriot. He proves more than willing to once again drive out his country’s invaders. Upshot: No one minds if he drinks all the German blood he desires.
In Berlin, when Hitler hears about the many defeats his forces are suffering at the hands of an apparent true vampire, he is seduced by the possibility of becoming immortal. Thus two forces are set upon a collision course, the ultimate confrontation: Superpower against superpower. (Summary and image from goodreads.com. I was provided a copy in exchange for an honest review.)
Review: Romania isn’t faring well. The Nazis have taken over so swiftly, so effectively, and the Resistance is struggling to stay afloat. Saddled with two British spies sent to buoy their efforts (one is starry-eyed, one hit his head parachuting out of the plane and is now mentally deficient), Professor Van Helsing, leader of the Resistance, realizes that desperate times call for desperate measures, and that times have never been more desperate than now. What his adopted country needs is a force greater than that of the Nazi War Machine. It’s time to fight fire with fire.
The premise of this book just thrilled me to my core. Written as a continuation of Bram Stoker’s novel (while also poking fun at the “liberties” Stoker took to sensationalize the story), the reader joins Van Helsing as an aged professor, his daughter (who has always been drawn to the forbidden story of her father’s past), Jonathan Harkness’ grandson, and the crowning glory-a reanimated Dracula as they reach a temporary truce in order to rid Romania of the Nazi invasion. Dracula, it seems, was semiconscious throughout the passing years, and while imprisoned in his coffin, has reevaluated his life, um, undeath, erm, existence. His charm and charisma have grown, as has his desire to control his own bloodlust.
I loved how this book married the legend of Dracula with the historical Vlad the Impaler, and brought a gothic novel to a new life. Even better, Duncan has seamlessly connected Hitler’s known obsession with the occult and anything supernatural to the story, creating a deeper and more suspenseful storyline. While at times the story drags (one attack by a virtually unstoppable creature is very similar to every other), the culmination is heart-poundingly gripping.
As a warning, this book is much too bawdy for my taste. I felt like the lewdness of the soldiers, the sex scenes, and the lurid details were utterly superfluous and unnecessary for the story, even detracting from the drive and the urgency of the Resistance’s goals. It’s a pity, too, because without them, the story would have been stronger.
Rating: Three stars
For the Sensitive Reader: This is not for you.