Fiction Reviews

Countess Dracula

(2013) Guy Adams, Hammer, £6.99, pbk, 248pp, ISBN 978-0-099-55386-1


British Born Guy Adams (1976) first started off as an actor, a profession he both trained and worked in for twelve years before turning his hand towards writing about six years ago. He is responsible for the brilliant Zombie detective series 'Deadbeat' (2005-8) and other Hammer novels Kronos (2011) and Hands of the Ripper (2013). His other series include the 'Heaven Gate Chronicles' (The Good, the Bad and the Infernaland Once Upon a Time in Hell both 2013) also World House(The World House, 2010 and Restoration, 2011). Guy Adams has contributed to the Torchwood series in 'The House That Jack Built' (2009) and The Men that Sold The World (2011). As well as writing non fiction works such two official companions the series Life on Mars (2006 and 2007), The Rules Modern Policing – 1973 with Gene Hunt (2007) and Sherlock Holmes. His new series The Clown Service comes out in September 2013.

The Countess Dracula novel is based on the story of Countess Elizabeth Bathory, a sixteenth century noble woman (portrayed by Ingrid Pitt in the 1971 Hammer classic film). Known sometimes as the 'Blood Countess'. Whose legend included torturing young girls and bathing in blood.

The novel itself begins in the summer of 1971 on an open top tour bus of the homes of the rich famous. Business is slacking for tour guide come managing director Leo Hogarth. Only five people, two couples and very old guy. However two bubbly young girls (Brandi and Cheryl) join the tour and things look up for Leo. The tour gets under ways as the introductions are done. The two all American couples are Margaret and Tony Riggers as well as Jerry and Vonda. The old guy introduces himself as Gary Holdaway.

The tour is abruptly interrupted by Holdaway and a detour is taken on the promise of forgotten Hollywood history. Holdaway then weaves an intriguing story around Elizabeth Sasdy a Hollywood starlet of Hungarian origin. He sets the scene for 1930s Hollywood at the end of the silent era. Elizabeth Sasdy takes centre stage with her English husband Frank Nayland. A seemingly perfect marriage, carefully stage managed to hide Elizabeth’s true origins and portray her as an all American star. Trouble is her looks are starting to fade and with the arrival of talkies she has had to work on her accent to survive. Until in an accident happens brought on by her violent temper when she discovers an answer to her problems. But at what cost?

This gruesome story of Hollywood debauchery, adultery and loyalty is both tight and well written. Guy Adams writing style is clear, easy to read and the book flows very well. Description of film reel is used in parts which is a nice touch. The authors experience of acting and writing both shines through with his depiction of the characters. As a result of this novel, this reader did go back and watch the film Countess Dracula which itself says something about Hammer films and Guy Adams.

Gory and in places quite sensual the book itself is not for the faint hearted. It may not appeal to all fans of just fantasy or science fiction, but horror and Hammer fans will greatly enjoy it.

Nadia Mook

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