I’m going to call Perry Lake a scholar of Dracula. While there are many who could, say give you details of a myriad of movies involving the blood-imbibing character, Lake is able to give you a deep draught of history with it.
Dracula Arisen is that draught.
This book is compilation of thirteen short stories, which make the connection between Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu’s Carmilla, one of the first Gothic stories to feature blood drinkers and Bram Stoker’s classic novel, Dracula. Lake has most certainly read and loved and been inspired by both pieces of literature.
But it doesn’t end there. He has researched the available information on Vlad the Impaler and several other characters to create a strong and vivid sense of place for this tale. One of Lake’s strengths lies in being able to capture the epic journey of an immortal creature and keep the sense of the mores of the time, which can be markedly different to our own. Inviting a vampire hunter and his son to a party where all of the other guests are vamps, for example.
Arisen is meticulously researched and it is evident Lake has a love for the iconic character and his origins. The book chronicles Vlad’s parents dancing with the devil, to the dark shadow surrounding his birth, to his rise to power via his violent battles and the subsequent torture of prisoners. (Yes, how he got the moniker “The Impaler” is described in detail.) After his death, Vlad is revived by a mad doctor whose intent is to keep him as a servant. But soon, Vlad frees himself to journey toward the image of Dracula most of have today.
In many places, I didn’t know what was fact and what was fiction. Which is a credit to Lake. Since the book is so flush with history, it got a bit too informative for me in places, at times reading almost like a textbook. As such, it was a good idea to have the book presented in short story format to allow for large passages of time and the inclusion of a rather sturdy number of supporting characters.
Arisen is a strong—extremely strong—work of historical fiction. There were times I felt engrossed in the story. Occasionally, however, I got a bit bogged down in what felt like information transfer as opposed to storytelling, which can happen if you aren’t as “into” a historical figure or a time period as the author.
Even so, I would recommend reading Dracula Arisen as Lake is able to create a sense of place and time for the reader that many authors struggle to craft. This book is a mastery of the epic form, which many writers shy away from due to the massive amounts of time, research, and the events that must be covered. The book is meticulously and cleverly written, powered by fact and events and doesn’t linger too long on emoting.
I rarely read what I consider to be plot-driven novels, so I had to approach this read differently, taking it in smaller bites instead of devouring it in a few sittings. But I’m glad I did as I found myself appreciating the scope of the book and Lake’s pinpoint accuracy in delivering it.