Last week I signed up to participate in The Reading Life’s Irish Short Story week. There is only one day left so I thought I better get busy and post. I read Bram Stoker’s “Dracula’s Guest.” There is some debate about the origination of this short story. Some claim that it was originally part of his novel Dracula and that his editor removed it. Others claim that this is false since the style of the short story is off and the storyline doesn’t jive completely with his novel. To be honest, I couldn’t tell either way so I’ll leave it to the experts to debate it. The story was published in 1914, a couple of years after Stoker’s death.
The story is about an Englishman who has stopped in Munich before continuing his way to Transylvania. The man is never named leading to more confusion if it was originally part of Dracula. The Englishman wants to look around, but the residents warn him that it is Walpurgis Night and “according to the belief of millions of people, the devil was abroad–when the graves were opened and the dead came forth and walked.” The hotelier warns the visitor not to be out late and the carriage driver is hesitant to go near an “unholy” village. The Englishman laughs off the fear of the carriage driver and ventures out on his own. He walks for a few hours and reaches a valley. A snow storm suddenly appears. To make matters worse, he finds that he wandered into a cemetery. The storm intensifies and so does the Englishman’s imagination. Or is it real? He ends up in a tomb, he hears a woman screaming, and he is hours away from civilization. To make matters worse, a large wolf with flaming eyes enters the scene. Will the Englishman live to tell his story?
The story is a gripping tale. It is only 12 pages long, but it kept me on the edge of my seat. When I read Dracula last summer I marveled over Stoker’s ability of getting my heart rate going. He knows how to keep the tension mounting with each sentence. While I read “Dracula’s Guest” I found myself wishing I hadn’t read Dracula yet since I wanted to visit the book with fresh eyes and to feel that excitement all over again. If you are a fan of Stoker, I think you would like this story. And there are other short stories out there by him and I plan on reading them.