In One Word

In One Word, Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula by Bram Stoker and Valdimar Asmundsson is…

powers of darkness

  • First published in 1900 in serialised form by Fjallkonan
  • Format: Audiobook
    • Narrator: Adam Verner, Robertson Dean, Ralph Lister, Derek Perkins and R.C. Bray
    • Listening Speed: 1.8x
  • Reading Time: 2 lurid days


  • Picked this one up because I heard about it on the Overly Sarcastic Podcast and I found the fact that no one cottoned on for over a century that the Icelandic translation of Dracula is a completely reworked version of the classic story absolutely hilarious. So, I decided to stretch the ‘pitcher plant’ prompt from the Bookforager’s Picture Prompt Book Bingo as far as it’ll go. Pitcher plants are carnivorous and so are vampires so that’s where the very tenuous connection lies. In this version, Thomas Harker goes to finalise a properly deal with Count Dracula in his Transylvanian castle and what he finds there is similar but quite different to what Jonathan Harker found. What follows is a shorter, punchier, more erotic and perhaps even more suspenseful than Stoker’s version.
  • Really worth reading through the foreword and afterword. It gives some essential history and context to this translation. It also puts forward the idea that, since Stoker was very protective of copyright, he knew about the changes and implicitly gave them his blessing. If anything, that makes the story of this translation even funnier and it makes me wonder if any other author have sneaked any alternate versions past the fans disguised as translations.
  • Observed a more overt villainy in the Count. The original version relied on a constant undercurrent of unease and Harker being too polite to ask about witnessing odd events. In this version, the Count is more open about he and his family’s infamy and Harker is a bit more confident. He does try to challenge the Count’s beliefs and demand answers for the strange things happening in the castle but the Count always bats him away with a good dose of gaslighting thrown in for good measure.
  • Made a lot of changes that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Hammer Horror version of Dracula from the insertion of a pretty blonde love interest to the inclusion of a cult with human sacrifices. If anything, it made this version ahead of its time as Dracula’s goals veer more towards social Darwinism than just pure domination. If it hadn’t been written before WW2, I might have been inclined to believe the author was inspired by the Third Reich. I like the little differences too, including the addition of a ‘found document’ framing device and the ‘disclaimer’ that some names have been changed to protect the innocent. It rather nicely explains why the novel is told in the form of diaries, logs and newspaper articles.
  • I liked the single ‘Bride of Dracula’ (or whatever relation she is to the Count in this version). The book fleshed out her character more and gave her an interesting (and fairly gruesome) back story. She makes a great secondary villain and a real threat to Harker as he is irresistibly drawn to her.
  • Still felt a bit drawn out at the beginning. Harker’s section in the original only takes around a quarter of the book but this one takes well over half and it feels like it. That’s one of the main reasons I’m not giving this full marks.
  • It’s a shame that Part 2 is more like an outline than a story. The foreword suggests that the translated version may have been a discarded draft and I must admit that theory seems likely. It’s a pity. If this was fully fleshed out, I may well have liked it more than the original ending. It was faster paced, delivered a lot of high drama and the characters acted a bit more cleverly when working out how to defeat the Count.
  • No chase across the Carpathians was in this version and a lot of the latter half of the original story was cut. As I said before, I don’t think that’s a bad thing. For a start, the big Idiot Ball moment (when Van Helsing and co leave Mina unprotected) wasn’t present as the Count never went after Wilma (this book’s version of Mina).
  • Grateful I decided to read this as it provided a good alternative version and I hope it will inspire a screen version if it hasn’t already. I think it’ll go down well.

Goodreads Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

Did you agree with my rating? Can you think of a better word to describe it? Please let me know with a like, share or comment.

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