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In the Footsteps of Dracula / Steven P. Unger
I recently wrote the following book review of Steve's travelogue/literary critique fpr

Bloody deeds and Gothic nightmares

In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journal and Travel Guide / Steven P. Unger. New York: World Audience, 2010. Edited by M. Stefan Strozier. ISBN 978-1-935444-53-4.

The Introduction to Unger’s travelogue describes the work as follows: ‘In part, In the Footsteps of Dracula: A Personal Journal and Travel Guide is a memoir for the armchair traveler, with pictures and descriptions of every site that is closely related to either Bram Stoker's fictional Count Dracula or his real historical counterpart, Prince Vlad the Impaler. The memoir is divided into sections that first follow in the footsteps of the fictional Count Dracula, and then in the footsteps of Vlad the Impaler from his birth to his death and burial, Part V, titled "Nuts and Bolts: A Practical Guide to the Dracula Trail". "Nuts and Bolts" includes an itinerary for the entire Dracula Trail, with recommended lodging and restaurants; as well as detailed transportation directions and the cost for traveling from one location to the next in sequence. The Dracula Trail begins and ends in London for the English portion and in Bucharest for traveling in Romania.’

Clearly, this book is extremely well organized and logical in its presentation. It is also extremely well written – the reader is swept along for the ride through the relatively unspoiled Romanian countryside, while the exploration of English sites takes place at a slightly more leisurely pace, in keeping with Bram Stoker’s research orientation. Steven describes his intention with this work as that of ‘stripping away the layers of myth about Count Dracula and Prince Vlad the Impaler to find the reality within’.

Steven’s close familiarity with the text of Dracula enables him to compare elements of the novel that are incongruous with the Transylvanian reality, due to Bram Stoker never having visited the area of which he wrote in such glowing mythical terms. Throughout this guide, he quotes relevant parts of the novel that tie in with his personal observations of the unfolding landscape – definitely enough to entice the avid reader back to savor the original source once more.

The detailed description of Vlad Dracula’s rule on the Wallachian throne serves, in blood-drenched style (accompanied by appropriate authorial warnings of the graphic nature of such text), to contextualize the legend of Dracula. Though the references to graveyards, churches and historic ruins abound, due account is also taken of the exploitation of the Dracula legend by the tourism industry in both England and Romania. Not that the author himself does not benefit from such enterprise, as he avails himself of the hospitality of numerous hotels and bed and breakfast establishments. Though giving full praise where such is due, as with the Bed & Breakfast Coula in Sighişoara, which he rates as ‘hands down my favorite place to stay in my favorite town in Romania’, he also does not hesitate to advise about those that he finds to be not so appealing.

In the Footsteps of Dracula is filled with photographs of the people and places that Unger encounters on his travels. From the quaint fishing village of Whitby, where the novel Dracula was conceived and partly written, to the rugged Carpathian montane landscape surrounding the Borgo Pass, the site of Count Dracula’s ‘vast ruined castle’, Steven captures the essence of his environs. By identifying key components of the photos, which he relates to Bram Stoker’s text, their contents take on special significance and meaning for the reader. In his depiction of multiple Romanian street scenes, Steven encapsulates the medieval other-worldly feel of such towns as Tărgovişte and Sighişoara through which he travels. His inclusion of numerous photographs of young people garbed in Gothic attire, most of whom were captured while attending Whitby’s annual Gothic Festival, will no doubt also appeal to the younger reader.
Sounds good! I am fan of Stoker´s Dracula!
Thanks so much for responding - I've let Steven know how you feel Smile.

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