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An Old Friend of the Family: The New Dracula, Book 3 | [Fred Saberhagen]

An Old Friend of the Family: The New Dracula, Book 3

The Southerland family left the old world to start anew in America, but little did they know that a blood-feud, older than history itself, would follow them through the generations to come. Kate Southerland, the first born of the latest generation of Southerlands, has been murdered, but she is not dead. Her little brother, Johnny, has also vanished, a severed, bloody finger the only clue. But the Southerlands have no clue what they've fallen into....
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Publisher's Summary

The Southerland family left the old world to start anew in America, but little did they know that a blood-feud, older than history itself, would follow them through the generations to come.

Kate Southerland, the first born of the latest generation of Southerlands, has been murdered, but she is not dead. Her little brother, Johnny, has also vanished, a severed, bloody finger the only clue.

But the Southerlands have no clue what they've fallen into. Their enemy is no mortal madman, but the undying mistress of evil enchantment, Morgan Le Fay, and the Southerlands are not her true target. She seeks to do battle with their protector, their defender, the only man who is capable of saving this mortal family from a war they've never realized was waged.

©1979 Fred Saberhagen (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

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  •  
    Amanda Pike NY 03-06-13
    Amanda Pike NY 03-06-13
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    "I'm glad these are finally coming out!"
    Where does An Old Friend of the Family rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is probably my second favorite audio book, right after an Old Friend of the Family from the same book series.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Dracula, naturally. Though he is still ruthless and vicious he is somehow still becomes likable.


    Which character – as performed by Robin Bloodworth – was your favorite?

    Dracula, there's something very amusing about his delivery, particularly the conversation with Joe about the mutilated kidnapper. That was priceless.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Some family secrets are dangerous.


    Any additional comments?

    I'm concerned that audibles has only listed three books for The New Dracula series. I hope they are aware that there are actually ten books to this book series. The series was later re-titled The Dracula Sequence. I'm afraid someone might have dropped the ball and either forgotten the rest of the series or because they don't realize it's the same book series they will no longer have Robin Bloodworth reading them when they do get audio book releases.

    The full series is as follows:

    The Dracula Tape
    The Holmes Dracula File
    An old friend of the family
    Thorn
    Dominion
    A Matter of Taste
    A question of Time
    Seance for a vampire
    A Sharpness on the neck
    A coldness in the blood.

    And of course there are the short stories From The Tree of Time and Box number 50. Box number 50 (my absolute favorite short story) can be found in the book Dracula in London by P. N. Elrod and From the Tree of time can be found in Gaslight Arcanum.

    An Old Friend of the Family and Thorn can also be found in an omnibus called The Vlad Tapes.


    I only recently finished reading The Dracula Sequence book series by Fred Saberhagen and I think I have grown to adore his version of Dracula. My only regret in regard to these books is that I only recently started reading these books and sadly the author, Fred Saberhagen, passed away in 2007. I wish I had discovered these books while he was still alive. Also, it's very apparent to me that he did not mean for this book series to end where they did. The book series is clearly unfinished.

    His first book in the series begins with the novel The Dracula Tape which is a very tongue in cheek re-telling of the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker but from Dracula's point of view. Some of his justifications for the events are somewhat... questionable, such as his claim that what happened on the Demeter was the result of the first mate going insane because he thought a vampire was on board. Okay, so the first mate went insane and caused everything but... the cause of his insanity was true... there was a vampire on board... Then there's his claim that his relationship with Lucy was casual and consensual. But in the next breath he admits she thought it was all a dream. So, yes. Our narrator is not exactly honest and sometimes you have to read between the lines to catch the truth. He leaves out the details he doesn't like, apparently lies, and slants things to the way he wants to remember them. But for all his flaws you start to like Saberhagen's Dracula. He's no Edward Cullen. He doesn't lament being a vampire. He's proud of what he is and has a very strong, personal sense of honor. It also has a very satisfying ending for those who love the idea of Mina and Dracula as a couple, without actually re-writing the ending of Stoker's novel.
    The one thing I dislike is that Dracula's only real vulnerability in these books is wood. The reasoning given is that like a vampire wood is something that was once alive and transformed into something new.

    The second book in the series is called The Dracula - Holmes file. This story starts with Dracula roaming Victorian London, shortly after the events of Dracula. He accidentally gets involved in a very disturbing case with Sherlock Holmes, who actually resembles Dracula, himself.

    The Third book in the series called Old Friend of the Family, serves as a sort of glue linking the literary Dracula to the modern world through his connection to Mina's family. In this novel Mina's descendants are desperate for aide when young Johnny Southerland (the youngest of her line at this point) is kidnapped and his pinky fingers have been viciously torn off. The family, in desperation, use a spell left by "Grandma Mina" to summon help, at which point Dracula (under the alias Dr. Corday) turns up and becomes self-appointed guardian of Mina's family. And it becomes strangely satisfying when Dracula takes brutal revenge for what was done to poor Johnny. He even brutally mangles one of the kidnappers. You find yourself starting to root for him, despite his viciousness. He is a fantastic anti-hero.
    This book also introduces us to Joseph Koegh, who marries into the Southerland family (descendants of Mina and Jonathan Harker). Joe becomes a private investigator and recurring character in the series and he serves as a good counter balance to our not-always-nice narrator.

    The fourth book of the series is Thorn. In this book Dracula is attempting to win (at auction) a painting of his own "deceased" second wife from his mortal life only to find himself involved in a strange mystery that may involve his own half-vampire wife from his mortal life. The quality of the book series starts to slide a little bit here and the story alternates between the modern setting and the past. It actually has the feel of an episode of Forever Knight (The Canadian Vampire TV series from the early nineties). The best part of this book has to be Dracula's temper tantrum near the end of the book where Mina herself (now a vampire) shows up to warn one of the main protagonists not to go near him until it was over because of how dangerous he could be when angry. It was disturbing and amusing all at once. But considering what happened to lead to the tantrum it was completely understandable. Dracula and his lover were both blown up in a car. He survived by turning into mist and narrowly escaping. The woman was badly mangled to the point that she couldn't even ingest Dracula's blood to be transformed into a vampire and so she died in agony in his arms... which lead to a monstrous, probably warrented, vampire temper tantrum from Dracula.

    The fifth book in the series is probably my least favorite. This one is called Dominion and deals with magick and Merlin himself (who has been wandering the streets under a curse that has left him an incompetent drunk...) Fred Saberhagen is not very good at describing magick. It's disjointed, hallucinogenic and a little incoherent. Fred Saberhagen can describe vampire powers fairly well but not generic magick or time travel very well. The best part though has to be when Dracula is tossed up into a whirlwind that tumbles him around through time, by an angry Merlin, who doesn't realize Dracula is actually on his side.

    After this is the short story From the Tree of Time which can be found in the short story collection Gaslight Arcanum. This one is a short story dealing with Dracula and Sherlock Holmes.

    The sixth book in the series is a good one. This one is called A Matter of Taste. In this book it's revealed that the historical rogue Ceasar Borgia became a vampire and now wants revenge on Dracula (for something our narrator claims was accidental but that's debatable considering our narrator isn't very honest...) Dracula ends up poisoned and now it's up to Mina's human descendants to protect him while he is vulnerable. Meanwhile the now adult Johnny Southerland (the one Dracula saved in Old Friend of The Family) has to find a way to explain to his future wife that his "Uncle Matt" is not only a vampire but THE Dracula. The ending is surprisingly endearing and sweet.
    In this book we learn that Dracula has a clever way of compensating for not having a reflection. He has replaced his bathroom mirror with a flat screened closed circuit television with a continual live feed of whatever is in front of it.
    The seventh book of the series is one of the two I don't care much for. The other is Dominion. In this one, called A Question of Time, a lot of time travel happens and as I discussed before, Fred Saberhagen is not very good at writing magick or time travel. This particular book has no real impact on the majority of the series and I don't feel it was necessary in the grand scheme of things.

    The eighth book of the series is called Seance for a vampire. And yet again our "Hero" makes some questionable decisions, such as wanting to seduce a young Medium whose brother has just been killed, But he was "considerate enough" to wait a night or so after the brother's death to seduce her. This was a fairly interesting one but the one thing about the book I don't care for is Fred Saberhagen sometimes puts his own opinion into the character. For example he has Dracula feel that all Mediums are frauds. He does not believe in ghosts. He believes in magick, time travel, spells, wizards, vampires, werewolves, and even karma but ghosts is the thing Dracula doesn't believe in? I don't buy it. It just doesn't make sense to me. This book deals with the historical Rasputin and is another cross over with Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson.

    The ninth book of the series is A Sharpness on the Neck and here Fred Saberhagen seems to poke fun of himself a bit, poking fun of how "Mr. Graves" (Another alias for Dracula) shifts from third person perspective to first person perspective. And it also pokes fun at how boring and long winded he can be when explaining things to people. In this story we learn that Radu (Dracula's vampire brother) wants a man named Phillip Radcliffe dead as revenge against his ancestor. It's up to Dracula and a masked band of helpers (Mna's human descendants) to save them.
    The story alternates with the past, particularly The French revolution, and the present day. There are subtle nods to A Tale of Two Cities and The Scarlet Pimpernel. At one point Dracula disguises himself as an executioner (and actually carries out several executions) to save a man he is honor-bound to protect.
    The funniest part of this book is when Dracula makes a three to five hour long video tape of himself sitting at a desk explaining the back story and the people who are being made to watch the video find it boring and even try fast forwarding it. At one point he even enthralls them to watch it and they still fall asleep about five minutes into it.
    Little things are there to remind you of the viciousness of our protagonist. Even though he goes out of his way to try to rescue a little girl at one point, he still mangles a group of vampires who side with his brother Radu, thralls animals to remain still so a little boy can kill them with his mini guillotine, and carries out executions he doesn't even really agree with. He also mentions beating his brother with a wooden cane and tells us that his brother only cried out in pain to "annoy" him. He is... still... Dracula.

    After this is the short story Box Number Fifty which can be found in the short story collection Dracula in London. This is a sweet story dealing with Dracula and two street orphans and serves as a sort of mid-quel to The Dracula Tape.

    The Tenth book in the series is called A coldness in the blood and deals with a self-proclaimed Egyptian deity and a quest to find the Philosopher's Stone. A serious and not-quite resolved strain is put on "Uncle Mathew" (Dracula) and his relationship with Mina's human family (who he's been more or less stalking ever since the book Old Friend of the Family, set twenty years earlier...) The strain comes when Andy (Joe's son) goes to Uncle Matt's apartment to put together a website for him. While there he gets unintentionally wrapped up into the chaotic adventure which subsequently leads to Andy's mother forbidding him from ever helping Uncle Matt with his computer and or going to his apartment again. I can't help but feel sorry for Dracula here because he's clearly grown attached to these people that he has made himself protector of and it's apparent they're all still quite afraid of him. Well, I suppose I'd be a little nervous too if Dracula decided to become my guardian Angel but I've grown to like the guy.
    Dracula has been trying very hard to get others to adopt the term Hmo-dirus or Homo-sapien-dirus as a subspecies title for Vampire or as he says Nosferatu. ...It doesn't seem to catch on.

    The one thing I dislike about this novel is yet again, like with ghosts in Seance for a vampire, Fred Saberhagen puts his own views in Dracula and it doesn't make much sense that a man from fifteenth century Romania would have issues with a young man having an earring and yet he does. And the author goes out of his way to have multiple characters unrealistically hate the earring, including even a very young character named Dolly. Since when does Dracula have a 1950s middle America mind-set about Jewelry? It doesn't fit.

    In any event it's obvious here that this was not meant to be the last book of the series. And it's disappointing to know the book series never truly will be completed since the author passed away.
    But for anyone who misses vampires who could be terrifying and charming, charismatic yet violent, and not sparkly, I strongly, strongly recommend these books. I think this book series is highly under-rated and Fred Saberhagen's version of Dracula has become one of my favorite literary characters.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Melinda Spring Arbor, MI, United States 06-19-13
    Melinda Spring Arbor, MI, United States 06-19-13 Member Since 2012
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    "I wish I had this old friend in my family!"

    Vlad is THE ally to have, indeed! He comes to the aid of the Southerland family, Mina's descendants, when evil strikes. his story sets the stage for the rest of the stories that follow that take place in present time. Easily one of my favorites in this series, made are the more enjoyable by Robin Bloodworth's excellent performance.

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Paul McMahon Fremantle, Australia 05-13-14
    Paul McMahon Fremantle, Australia 05-13-14 Listener Since 2007

    mcmap

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    "Author and naration find their way"

    This is the third book of this series I have tried. One I sent back. The second found some reconciliation between reader and listener. This outing sees the writing find a good rhythm which allows the narrator to bring forth an entertaining interpretation.

    Saberhagen does away with the first person perspective and the story benefits very much. Robin Bloodworth is able to avoid the forced voice of the previous books and set forth the drama more comfortably.

    Three stars because it is a pot boiler that is great for listening to in the car ... enjoyable.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    Old Man Parker Kailua-Kona, HI, United States 05-14-13
    Old Man Parker Kailua-Kona, HI, United States 05-14-13 Member Since 2009

    Me am Pop-Surrealist Tiki-Artist living and making Art on the active volcanic "Big Island" of Hawaii. Aloha.

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    "Sherlock Holmes & Dracula team up to battle Evil!"
    Would you listen to An Old Friend of the Family again? Why?

    Yes, it's very good.


    What other book might you compare An Old Friend of the Family to and why?

    Well, Book 2 of this series, where Dracula Meets Sherlock for the first time.


    Which character – as performed by Robin Bloodworth – was your favorite?

    I like his Dr. Watson very much. always the voice of radon. While, Dracula can add in things that make a bit more drama - and in his favor.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    Yes.


    Any additional comments?

    I loved this team up of Sherlock Holmes and Dracula so much I am longing for Dr. Frankenstein and his monster to become part of that great pulp action writer, Dr. Watson's stories!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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