NR: Azeman or, The Testament of Quincey Morris

Lisa Moore’s Azeman is inspired by an incident in Dracula where Quincey Morris goes off in hot pursuit of the vampire Count and then hides behind a tree, an act for which no explanation is forthcoming, and it is this oversight that Moore addresses in her novella.

The testament is presented by Quincey Harker, the son of Jonathan and Mina Harker, who named him after Morris. Morris tells of his birth during the American Civil War, of his father who always wore the hide of a razorback pig, and regarding whom terrible things were suspected. Morris kills a bear and wears its skin draped round him, later setting off round the world and having various adventures. But always he has a suspicion that something is following him, an entity responsible for monstrous acts. Which brings us to England and the various encounters with Dracula.

This was an intriguing piece of work, one that seeks to expand on the original material while remaining self-contained. At its heart is an account of how you can either overcome your worst nature or surrender to its horrors. The build-up to the ending is beautifully executed, and Morris comes across as an engaging character with a back story to elicit a rough sympathy, a character who is far more than just a member of the supporting cast, with incidents in his past that will shock and horrify the reader every bit as much as the vampire’s atrocities. While the Testament remains central to the story, there’s correspondence from other parties – Mina, Jonathan, and Van Helsing – that cast extra light on what happened to Morris, and at the same time mimic the occasionally epistolary nature of Dracula itself. And yet much as I enjoyed the book, it didn’t really seem to go anywhere, doing little more than demonstrate that Dracula was not the only monster on the loose in Victorian England. I liked it, but wasn’t entirely satisfied, didn’t have the feeling that I’d read something that added anything of significance to the source material. It felt like the story needed to be told at much greater length. In conclusion then, the book was an engaging and enjoyable read but to my mind didn’t quite realise its full potential.

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