NESFA Members' Reviews

coverA Coldness in the Blood

by Fred Saberhagen

A book review by Mark L. Olson

Tor, 2002, 381 pp, $25.95.

Fred Saberhagen has written his own Dracula, consistent with Bram Stoker only insofar as he treats Dracula as a primary source, but one hopelessly biased by the fears of a man who completely misunderstood Dracula and the events of the story. (One of Saberhagen’s books – The Dracula Tapes – purports to be an audio tape recorded by Dracula in the 1980s where he finally gives his own version of the events in Dracula. It’s well worth reading.)

Saberhagen’s Count Dracula is an immortal vampire who has all of the abilities Stoker describes – weakened by sunlight; needs to sleep on native earth; no need to breathe, needs blood for sustenance, can turn into other shapes including a mist-form; must be invited into a house – but who is not evil, either intrinsically or by choice. When he was alive he was a God-fearing Transylvanian nobleman who was ruthless with his enemies and loyal to his friends and those fundamentals haven’t changed much in the last 500 years. Dracula himself has changed with the years – he’s grown as anyone would – and he’s comfortable with modern culture (he lives in a Chicago highrise) but he’s still a friend to be cherished and an enemy to be feared.

The vampire community is as varied as any human community with good, bad, and indifferent people in it. They all fear Dracula, however, who is one of the oldest who still live (or undie, if that’s a verb).

Dracula has long-standing connections with Joe Keogh, a policeman turned security consultant who is a descendent of Mia Harker, Dracula’s one-time lover. For her sake, Dracula continues to watch over her family – which is just as well because has connection with them have from time to time brought them into contact with various vampiric and supernatural evils. (In this case they get sucked in because Joe’s son Alex is helping Dracula (he goes under the name of Jonathan Maule) set up a web site.

Like the other books in this series, A Coldness in the Blood is a good adventure, and, like the other books, probably won’t appeal to the people who look for horror or for kinky sex in their vampire stories.

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