The middle volume in the trilogy of the vampire diaries is supposed to be the weakest of the three. If that is the case, then I am determined to find the rest of Jeanne Kalogridis' trilogy.
“Children of the Vampire: The Diaries of the Family Dracul” is a well-written, well-researched novel of a clan's descendents who feel cursed by the family history. The reader is treated to diary entries of various lengths from two brothers – Stefan and Abraham Van Helsing – their mother Mary Windham Tsepesh Van Helsing (who is not a descendant of the clan but married into it), and of an aunt and uncle to the brothers – Zsuzsanna Tsepesh and Arkady Tsepesh. (Tsepesh means impaler in Romanian.)
The story, set in the mid-1800s, follows Arkady as he tries to protect his son from being enslaved by Vlad, who is still flitting around in remarkably well-preserved form, considering he is 400 years old. The brothers are swept up in the clan curse and away from their medical practice when Stefan is abducted by his nasty yet glamorous aunt Zsuzsanna.
Family secrets leak out all over the place, such as the truth of the boys' identity.
It is Abraham who shoulders the responsibility of trying to weaken Vlad by releasing victims of vampirism. By killing them in the ritualistic way (that is, with a stake through the heart PLUS beheading) their souls are released and can at last rest in peace. He is trained and aided in this mission by a mysterious hermit-like monk who lives in the middle of a forest. The hermit has a knowledge of both herbs and spiritual warfare.
“Jeanne Kalogridis” is a pen name for J. M. Dillard, who is probably better-known as a writer of several sci-fi novels in the Star Trek genre. She also wrote the novelization of the cultish hit movie Bulletproof Monk (2003). The other titles of the Dracula trilogy are Covenant of the Vampire (the first volume) and Lord of the Vampire (the final volume). This middle volume has been criticized for repeating some of the material in the first one and setting the stage for the last one – but I feel that important new characters appear, such as the hermit who aids Abraham in his mission.
I like this novel! I would have been sorely disappointed if had resembled most of the other vampire-themed media for the teen crowd. And I am not interested in the Anne Rice vampire stories set in the modern day, sorry about that. But I have seen most of the movies about Dracula, and I like this novel because it is well-grounded in the traditional story and background of the characters and legend.
Children of the Vampire: The Diaries of the Family Dracul, Jeanne Kalogridis (aka J. M. Dillard), Delacorte Press (of Bantam Doubleday Dell), New York, 1995, 301 pages.