Title: Dracula’s Guest
Author: Bram Stoker
Page Count/Review Word Count: 416
Dracula’s Guest is just a short story, with an interesting history – I believe that it’s a sort of missing chapter, which was originally supposed to be part of the original manuscript and which helps to set the scene for Stoker’s notorious novel. Here, it’s the titular story of a collection, but there’s much, much more on offer than just a bonus scene from Dracula, which is, after all, a masterpiece in its own right.
I’m not going to go into depth about each of the short stories, but I will tell you that Stoker’s short fiction is just as good as his long-form work, and I should know – I’ve read a bunch of both, and whilst Dracula gets all of the praise, I have a lot of love for some of his other stuff such as Snowbound, which follows a theatrical touring party as they tell stories whilst stranded by snow. Here, the stories are just as good, but they’re condensed and easier to swallow.
Because of that, this is a pretty good place to start if you’re relatively new to Stoker’s work – I’d suggest reading Dracula first, if you can, but because of its length, it can seem off-putting to a lot of people. This book is about the same length as Dracula, but it has ten other stories in it, including The Lair of the White Wyrm, which is probably my favourite piece out of all of Stoker’s work.
I’m not saying it’s easy to read, though – it’s a dense book, and it took me a good two weeks to get through it, but it was rewarding enough for me to stick with it. I don’t think this book is for everyone, but if you’re the kind of person who likes to read things even if they’re challenging, then you’ll probably make it to the end, given time.
After all, that’s one of the good things about short story collections – because the stories are so short, you can dip in and out of them at will, and that gives you a lot of power as the reader. Even if it is a little heavy going, you can always read a story, move on to something else, and then come back again later to finish it. I certainly think that The Lair of the White Wyrm could have been published in its entirety as a standalone.