Powers of Darkness

The wild translation of Dracula from turn-of-the-century Sweden

Fiction - Horror
1049 Pages
Reviewed on 02/25/2022
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite

It is incredibly rare when a long-lost manuscript, once written by one of the world's most notorious storytellers, is unceremoniously forgotten...and then found. Powers of Darkness by Bram Stoker as adapted to Swedish by the mysterious “ A—e” is one of these rare jewels. When the work came to light in the late 2010s there was little fanfare outside of the literary community, and even then it was only the classicists and 'anthrophiles' that lusted over a work that we couldn't even read if we didn't know Swedish. The translation has since occurred in English and we have been gifted it by the first out of the gate, one Mr. W. Trimble. Powers of Darkness predates Dracula and is a wildly expansive piece with the gothic horror elements that made Dracula a masterpiece. This is not a masterpiece of writing, but I have my reasons for giving W. Trimble and this edition five stars.

W. Trimble forewarns that the racism of Victorian Britain is alive and well in the realm of Bram Stoker's undead. Eastern Europeans and Romani, in particular, are represented in vile tropes and infuriatingly obscene stereotypes. Stoker's disregard is ironic in the sense that he was Irish and would have no doubt experienced racism of his own living in London, but the totem-pole pecking order often results in crushing those further down. Stoker is no exception. W. Trimble has trimmed a lot of the fat from the original work and I am grateful for it. Trimble did an exceptional job of preserving the integrity of the overall work. I was intrigued by the differences between Powers of Darkness and Dracula, most notably: Harker NOT hating on the Count's loving ladies but actually seeking them out, the social habits of the Count that painted him as a total recluse in the print version--the old vampire even throws a party here--and the focus and featuring of the Count's overt politicking. To me, this was like reading a collection of unedited ancient love letters after only being given copies that were redacted. This is the true origin story of Dracula. Love or hate the content, I've got nothing but admiration for the brave soul who is sharing it with the English-speaking world. Very highly recommended.