Bloodline by Kate Cary, published by Egmont Books on 4th October 2010
Thirty-five years have passed since the death of the Master. But now a new evil walks among the living. . . .
When nineteen-year-old John Shaw returns from the trenches of World War I, he is haunted by nightmares—not only of the battlefield, but of the strange, cruel and impossible feats of his regiment's commander, Quincey Harker. Harker's ferocity knows no limits, and his strength is superhuman.
At first John blames his bloody nightmares on trench fever. But when Harker appears in England and begins wooing John's sister, John must confront the truth—and stop Harker from continuing Dracula's bloodline.
'Bloodline' is an inventive sequel to the original Bram Stoker's Dracula. The story takes place many years after the events that led to the downfall of Dracula - events that left, however, his bloodline intact.
Quincey Harker is a captain leading a band of men during the war. John Shaw is one of his lieutenants, who witnesses the atrocious nighttime exploits of his captain and who returns to England to convalesce and recover from his injuries, haunted by what he's seen. Mary Seward is the daughter of Dr. Seward (from the original novel) and is in charge of helping John to return to good health. As she nurses him she falls in love but soon comes across his journal where she discovers the full depth of his torment. As Harker's relationship with John's sister Lily deepens, it's up to John and Mary to save her from a great evil.
I first read the original Dracula a few years ago but I could still remember enough to piece together the important parts of the story that were woven together with 'Bloodline'. The latter is an imaginative and intriguing take on a classic novel that's influenced a whole genre of books. I don't think it really matters if you haven't read Dracula itself although it's interesting to pick up the thread of the story and follow a new generation of characters. It also meant that I had a real sense of foreboding throughout the book and I was sat there reading and waiting for something terrible to happen!
The narrative alternates between the four main protagonists and is told through their thoughts, letters and journals. This gave valuable insight into their thoughts, feelings and emotions and helped to create three dimensional characters that seemed vividly real. It also meant that it was difficult sometimes to know where my sympathies lay because not everything was as black and white as it first seemed. My preconceptions were often turned completely upside down.
If I'm nitpicking, the only thing that didn't necessarily gel for me was the conclusion of the story. It seemed (without giving anything away) that it didn't work so well with some of the elements of the original novel. I didn't completely like the direction which it took at the end, although I think it has set things up nicely for the sequel. That aside, I still thoroughly enjoyed the book and finished it in one sitting as the story drew me in and continually left me on a knife-edge at the end of each chapter. The mystery and suspense was drawn out well, particularly in the latter half of the book, until I was on the edge of my seat and desperate to know how it was all going to end.
The sequel 'Reckoning' is published by Egmont Books in February 2011 and sounds awesome.