* Prices may differ from that shown
My son ( nearly 7) has recently discovered comic books and graphic novels and absoultely loves them. I always enjoyed comics myself, and am very dissapointed that children today can not pick up a comic at the local news agent with their weekly pociket money. There is something very appealing to children about graphic stories. They are very easy to read, which encourages the more reluctant reader, and the pictures do add to the fun. My son has also taken an interest in monster stories, so this seemed the perfect way to introduce him to one of the ultimate classics in monster stories - Dracula. I still maintain the original, by Bram Stoker to be the best vampire story ever written - unless you class 'I am Legend' as a vampire story.
Graphic Chillers is a series of classic horror stories, rewritten in a comic book style. This book is based very closely on the work of Bram Stoker, he is in fact listed as one of the authors, but I'm not sure if he would be well pleased by the honour. There is also a brief biography of Bram Stoker at the front of the book.
The illustrations in this book are fairly good. I would not class them as works of art, but they are better than many comic style books. The colours are dark and muted, primarily shades of grey, with black, and browns. This suits the story, and makes the odd splash of red all the more noticeable. Something is missing from Dracula though - he seems a bit dull and flat, and not at all frightening.
The story is taken directly from Stoker's original, but with only 30 pages and the majority of that devoted to illustration, there is very little room left for text and huge sections of this story have been chopped away. My son read this book on his own, and declared it "boring". I asked him to give it another chance and read it to him, filling in as much of the missing detail as possible, and he said the story was much better. He did say he would enjoy a graphic novel of Dracula the way I tell it, but sadly he has little interest in reading this book on his own.
I had read this book before giving it to my son, as is my habit, and I didn't think the book was too bad. But after discussing it with my son, I realise I would not have enjoyed this book at all without prior knowledge of the story. There are simply to many part of this book where you would have no idea what was going on if you had not read the original. In my mind, I am filling in all the missing sections from memory, but without a memory of the complete story, this book would really fall flat. The story jumps from one place to another, with little explanation and is almost impossible to follow.
The story begins with Jonathan Harker arriving at a castle in Transylvania. The book does explain that he has come to sell the castles elderly resident, Count Dracula a property in England. We then get a few odd scenes, the count reacts strangely to the sight of blood, and Jonathan discovers the count sleeping in a coffin and climbing a wall face down like a rat. We next see Jonathan climbing a rope to escape the castle, so one must assume he has been held prisoner ( which of course, if one has read the original we already know). The book moves on to Lucy and Mina, and then jumps backwards and forwards rather wildly between the stories of Lucy, Dr Seward, and his patient Renfield. The sections with Renfield are so chopped up, that one never really gets a grasp of this character at all. Even after reading, my son was uncertain if Renfield were a vampire, or if not quite what was wrong with him. In fact, if he did not know the name of Count Dracula before reading this, I am not certain if he would have realised that Count Dracula was a vampire.
At this point Miss Lucy becomes very ill, but Mina must leave for Budapest as Jonathan has finally sent news that he is in hospital there. Dr Seward calls in his old colleague, Van Helsing to examine Lucy, but despite her growing fangs before her death, no one seems to have caught on to the fact that she is now vampire. They do catch on when though when several children report being attacked by "The bloofer lady", and mention is made that the men have gone to take care of it. The book does not say how they take care of it, and I don't think I would quite want Stokers original description of driving in the stake in a child's book, but by totally skipping this section, it leaves the story rather unresolved.
I assume that everyone reading this will be familiar with the original tale. All the same, I will not give the ending of the book away just in case. Also, I feel that as everyone is familiar with the story, there is no need to repeat it. However, I will say the rest of the book continues in the same fashion. There is simply too much left out to really get a grasp of the story without knowing the original. The ending is especially disappointing.
If anyone is considering this book for children, there is of course some chance of a child being frightened by this, as it does of course have vampires. I do think you could have guessed that on your own though. This is however a nearly bloodless version, with no actual attacks or battles shown. My son did not find this least bit frightening, which was a disappointment for him - he likes books to be just a little bit scary.
I can't say that this book is horrible. I suppose one could look it as an easy way to give children some knowledge of the classics. My fear though is, that reading this would put them off the classics. My son did enjoy the book once I came in and told the story properly, but at best it can be looked upon as a series of illustrations. Unless you are prepared to tell the story from memory, I can not see a child really having much interest in this. After reading this, my son was ready to completely write Dracula off as a terribly boring subject. He says he does like the story when I tell it - but it is better without the book. That makes this a whopping waste of £5 for me ( £6.29 if you buy it new) and I will most certainly not be buying any more books in this series.
I am giving this book 2 stars instead of only one, simply because I didn't really think it was bad when I first read it. I think it would be OK if you have read the original, or perhaps even seen the movie, just so long as you already know the full story. But, this is not a graphic novel for adults. It has clearly been rewritten for children, and as child's book, it just doesn't work. I have on the odd occasion read a book with a few missing pages. That is very much the feeling this book gives you, as if someone has randomly removed several sections of the story.