When I was in middle and high school, I was obsessed with scary movies and novels, though my reading list tended to be more modern. I loved to read Stephen King’s books and to watch horror movies. I’d have sleepovers with my friends, and we’d stay up late into the night watching Dracula and Carrie and Nightmare on Elm Street (is there a scarier movie than the one that takes place in a dream?) and An American Werewolf in London. The sleepless nights, to me, were worth the thrill and adrenaline rush as we watched Kiefer Sutherland being a vampire in The Lost Boys.
But the one thing I missed in my readings was the original Dracula by Brahm Stoker.
Then I wind up learning that fellow Lay Dominican Eleanor Bourg Nicholson has written a book based on Stoker’s Dracula, except with vampire-slaying Dominican friars!
Talk about a hook!
Each chapter of A Bloody Habit begins with a selection from Stoker’s Dracula, which Nicholson ties to the happenings of the chapter. Her familiarity with Stoker’s work has helped her weave the original story into her own, which takes place just a few years after the publication of Stoker’s book. The little snippets that open the chapter not only give us a bit of foreshadowing, but also draw us further into the story that unfolds in London of 1900 and that involves a rash of supernatural attacks. (Vampires in London!)
One of the most interesting things about Nicholson’s novel is her weaving of Catholic theology throughout – and it’s done without that feeling of being hit over the head with it. As a matter of fact, the book is told completely from the point-of-view of John Kemp, an agnostic, slightly anti-Catholic London lawyer who winds up meeting Father Thomas Edmond Gilroy, OP. Father Thomas provides any light catechesis that would counter misunderstandings that Kemp might gain from Stoker’s book (which figures into the story itself, as well as a foreshadowing tool for each chapter).
I found myself yearning to pick this book up any time I had to lay it aside for work or homeschooling or whatever other activities were keeping me from delving into it. By the end, I was staying up late, ignoring Bobby Flay on the TV, and even dreaming about the plot lines.Since finishing this fascinating novel, I’ve started listening to a podcast of Dracula so that I might go back and re-read it with the original story in mind. (Oh, yes! This novel definitely deserves a second reading!)
In other words, I highly recommend A Bloody Habit! You can purchase it straight from Ignatius Press or through Amazon for Kindle or in paperback. I would recommend it for mature teens and adults, due to the nature of the story.
Note: I was given a galley copy of the book for the purposes of reviewing it, but purchased my own copy in paperback before I even got through the first chapter.
Photo of cover and text © Christine Johnson. All rights reserved.