Written in 1897, Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” has been terrifying readers with its depiction of the original vampire for well over a century. A courageous team, led by Jonathan Harker and wife Mina, discovers the sinister plot of Count Dracula. After several tragic setbacks, they manage to put an end to their immortal enemy.

Often referred to as the foundation of the vampire genre, Stoker’s work has inspired countless references and works. In their novel “Dracul,” Stoker’s great-grand nephew Dacre Stoker and J.D. Barker explore the masterpiece’s origins.

Readers meet Bram Stoker, a constantly sick 7-year-old, whose delicate health is a major concern to his family. His helpful older sister, Matilda, watches over her brother, raising his spirits and doing her best to ease his suffering. The pair becomes obsessed with their nanny, Ellen Crone, a mysterious woman who entered the family’s employment shortly before Bram was born. The children start to notice certain eccentricities about her. They are unable to agree on her looks, and cannot track her sudden comings and goings. Bram and Matilda finally end up investigating Ellen’s bedroom after a series of murders. Ellen then disappears, which leads the children to try to track her down years later.

The narrative style evokes Bram Stoker’s writing style. Written in an epistolary format, the novel uses a series of journal entries, letters and newspaper clippings to continue the plot as the characters delve deeper into the mysteries surrounding Ellen Crone.

The two authors re-create their own team of sleuths centered around Bram and his family, paying homage to the expedition team introduced in “Dracula.” The greatest respect the two authors show to Stoker is evident in the miniscule details that mirror his work.

The most interesting part of “Dracul” may be at the end, where the authors provide the reader with supplemental information in an afterward. They talk about myriad details, from submissions of the manuscript to London and other foreign cities, to Bram’s original notes on vampires to the characteristics of real people who inspired his characters.

The authors’ relate one cryptic line that Bram originally opened with when presenting the manuscript to his publisher: “This story is true.”

David Arndt is a freelance reviewer in Fredericksburg.

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