Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Journal of Professor Abraham Van Helsing - A Review

Publisher: Forge Books
Genre: Fantasy / Paranormal
Format: Hardback
Pages: 208

Filled with data to inform, and tips to educate, the journal is more than a study of vampirism. It is also the story of a man's obsession with eradicating the world of its greatest scourge, a dark evil that claimed his wife in its thrall. 

Working with the textural fragments he inherited from his grandfather, Professor Allen Conrad Kupfer, has managed to piece together the story behind the story that did not begin and end with Bram Stoker's Dracula.

I picked up this gem at a book sale forever and a day ago.  Since then it has sadly been sitting collecting dust.  Mostly because books likes these are one of my weakness.  Gothic tales are my favorite, especially the original stories from the Victorian era.  So I'm always on the lookout for retellings, or add-ons, to those stories I grew up loving.  The Journal of Professor Abraham Van Helsing fit that bill to the letter.  While packing for my trip it seemed like the perfect book to read in between whatever mischief I was going to be getting up to with my brother.

This is the story about how Abraham Van Helsing first learned about the vampire plague spreading across the globe.  How the Professor became trapped into the world of the damned, and why he arrived in London to help fight against Dracula.  

With all of the different mythos surrounding vampires these day because of TV shows and movies, it was nice to get back to the original mythology of these creatures.  While some of their weaknesses have transcended from books to screen, a few of them have not.  For example, anytime seeds are spilled on the ground the undead are compelled to stop and count them all.  It's a small thing that even I had forgotten until diving back into the world of Dracula.

As for the story itself, I felt like the story flowed well. At times there are three different narrators, Van Helsing, Daniel Kupfer, and Professor Allen C. Kupfer.  The shifts of each narration is easy to follow.  I never had to take a step back to figure who was talking.  I didn't mind the notes that Daniel Kupfer adds to Van Helsing's journal. They had an outside view at how Abraham changes from his visit to Dr. Borescu and his introduction to the vampire plague. It also adds a bit to how the world viewed those changes as madness.  However I felt the footnotes that were added by Professor Kupfer were not really needed.  Occasionally humorous, but really needed.

I was also a bit bummed that the journal skipped everything that happened to Abraham Van Helsing in London when he went up against Dracula. Whether this was a for copyright reasons, or an editing choice, I'm unaware. There was mention of the evens and references Dracula himself, but for the most part it felt ignored.  Like it was something that Van Helsing went through, but no reason was given as to why he left no notes or entries about the events in London and Transylvania.

While it was good to see that after the events in London Van Helsing didn't stop trying to put an end to the plague sweeping the world, and to see him so close to answers.  However, the ending itself felt a little rushed. As a whole I wasn't upset with how it ended.  In fact I like that was sort of an open ending. Is Van Helsing alive or dead?  Was he undead?  I like that you don't really know, but the events themselves a bit a rushed.  In fact I had to read the last few pages a couple of times because I felt like a missed pages, or maybe misread something. I had a lot of questions about how all of those events unfolded that never really got answered. 

All-in-all, it was fun afternoon of reading. It made me want to pick up Dracula again and reread it.  For what is probably the hundredth time by now. While not one of my favorites in the Dracula genre, The Journal of Professor Abraham Van Helsing is a fun read.

Buy, Burrow, or Skip: I would say definitely burrow this from your local library, or snag it from the local used bookstore!  

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