Comedy and suspense dominate this imaginative twist on the Dracula legend.
Harnissey, Dracula’s vampire nephew, and his companion, the ancient spider Morleaux, arrive at the old homestead for a visit when Dracula leaves for London. Harnissey, innocent, well-meaning and constantly bumbling, is attacked by the vampire sisters in residence, who intend to take over the castle while the Master is away. He and his intelligent spider sidekick eventually form an alliance with Dracula’s undead butler, a nicely drawn character always surrounded by a halo of buzzing flies, and a kingly, sinister cat, to do battle against a centuries-old vampire sorceress who’s arrived holding a grudge, along with her skeleton army. Bayne has a flair for droll comedy. His monstrous characters stand out clearly and distinctly as individuals, and the author’s clever focus on the other side of Bram Stoker’s novel helps fill out the story. The humorous undead protagonists, who are afraid of ghosts, add plenty of flavor to the story, as does the author’s incorporation of historical detail. The only flaw is Bayne’s tendency toward too-flippant dialogue, which is clearly designed to appeal to adolescents, but is inconsistent with the more sophisticated style used in the narration. Still, this is an entertaining romp that displays originality and inventiveness.
Great for a middle- or high-school audience looking for some fun. (Fiction. YA)