'Annotated Dracula' adds to vampire tale

To the complete text of Bram Stoker's "Dracula," Klinger adds copious notes - usually several a page - that offer facts and anecdotes to put the tale in the context of its Victorian England roots.

The trick of the book - what in his introduction calls his "gentle fiction" - is that he treats the text as if it were nonfiction, as though Stoker actually found the letters and clippings that make up the novel and as if existence of Dracula might be verified if the evidence is examined.

Klinger, who gave a similar, and award-winning, treatment to Sherlock Holmes, clearly relishes in the minutiae and history of the Victorian age. Many details on which he elaborates - for example, the specific books that were in Dracula's library at the time - bring vivid context to the novel and make the story come alive to readers who might not be aware of many details of the era.

But the treatment can be tiring, as when he points out at length why a description of "soft yellow moonlight" is unlikely for the date indicated in protagonist Jonathan Harker's diary.

Klinger refers to many other works on Dracula and the Victorian age in his notes, but his decision to treat the text as real sometimes makes it difficult to decipher what references are real and what Klinger is making up himself.

There are many treats to be found here that will both entertain the casual reader and sate the taste of the most rabid fans of vampire lore and the horror genre: an introduction by horror writer Neil Gaiman; plentiful illustrations taken from Dracula-related movies and TV shows (from "Nosferatu" to "Buffy the Vampire Slayer"); books and historical sources.

There are appendices that lay out the chronology of the text and essays that consider how Dracula has been treated in academia, and on the stage and screen. But what Klinger wisely realizes, and the reader can stick to if he or she wearies of all else, is that the biggest treat of all remains Stoker's text, still as captivating and horrifying as it was when first published in 1897.

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