Filler content with vampire hunter

This was posted to the old TTA Press website on 2 August 2007:-

Forge paperback, 204pp, $9.95

With The Journal of Professor Abraham Van Helsing, a book being deliberately marketed to cash in on the success of The Historian, Allen C. Kupfer falls back on the old trick of the fake document, in this case a spoof diary, allegedly left to the author’s grandfather Daniel, who was a friend of the vampire hunter and disappeared in mysterious circumstances years after coming to America as an immigrant, and found in the attic after the death of his grandmother. Kupfer is blasé about this, cheerfully owning up to the fact that it contains inconsistencies with the text of Dracula and anachronisms, such as Van Helsing’s use of the word ‘infrastructure’, giving the impression that he doesn’t much care if we believe in its authenticity or not, simply wanting to be spared the unwelcome attention its publication has brought him.

The Journal is fast paced, relating events both before and after those described in Stoker’s novel, giving us an account of Van Helsing’s first encounter with vampires, while staying as a guest of Dr Radu Borescu in Romania, and telling how they followed him back to Amsterdam, causing him personal loss, and his determination to end their menace once and for all, travelling to the vampires’ ancient homeland in Persia where he seeks to confront Malia, the Lamia of legend.

The book ends on an inconclusive note, making me wonder what further discoveries Professor Kupfer might make in the attic, dependent of course on the sales of this volume (cynical, moi?). While laying the groundwork for Van Helsing’s knowledge of vampires, the books adds nothing new to the story of Dracula, might even, it could be argued, detract from that classic by making the master vampire a pawn, regardless of which it is a lot of fun, with a conceit that engages the imagination and some well executed set pieces, such as the vampires’ attack on the train bearing Van Helsing home and the battle with the undead in a Persian marketplace, while the text is complemented by some finely detailed line drawings by Keith Birdsong and often amusing footnotes by Kupfer. Kupfer’s hoax is lightweight and won’t set the vampire subgenre alight, but it’s an agreeable way to pass a long coach journey (the circumstances in which I read the book), and a pleasant change from the earnestness of much recent vampire fiction.

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