Thursday, 17 September 2015
Dracula Unborn - Peter Tremayne
Peter Tremayne is one of the pseudonyms of the astonishingly prolific Peter Berresford Ellis. Dracula Unborn, the first of the trilogy illustrated above, was written when he was only in his early twenties. In 1977 the idea of continuing and developing the characters of another author was relatively radical whereas today it is commonplace. Tremayne brings a remarkable amount of background knowledge to his story and much of it turns out to be accurate. I had not suspected he was so young when he did it.
Given the time of writing, the hand of Hammer weighs heavily. You can picture the crappy sets and see the late Michael Ripper giving us his usual turn as Toma the village innkeeper. In the story, Mircea is the youngest son of the actual Dracula by his second wife. When the old man 'dies', Mircea is summoned from Italy by the brothers he has never met. Again, this is typical Hammer hokum and Tremayne includes all the expected tropes. Yet he somehow manages to keep them fresh and generates a fair amount of tension.
My only complaint is a minor one. Whilst I was confident of all the backstory involving the historical Vlad and the fictional Dracula, I was never confident that these characters were living in the 1480s. I never imagined that they were wearing the clothes of the late Middle Ages or early Renaissance, and that's a pity.