Words of praise and appreciation such as those the attached review has lavished upon me are what every author hopes for. But the intended consequence of every good review for the author of a series is that it raises the bar for the next volume. In the case of Mr. Tom Wills of Singapore, the bar jumped more than a notch. But don’t let that mislead you into thinking that I fear new 5***** reviews because of the pressure they exercise upon me. If I’m willing to accept the praise, I had better be ready to take the pain too. 🙂 Thank you reader Tom Wills.
Every once in a while I stumble on a book where, once I start reading, I find myself itching to get back to it whenever it’s not open right in front of me – including after I’ve finished it. This is one of those books. What makes it more notable than your average page-turner is that the author, Victor T. Foia, is a novice novelist who’s managed to just really nail it the first time. How often does that happen? The last time I had this kind of personal reaction to a first novel was with Khaled Hosseini’s opener, “The Kite Runner”, in 2003. The last time before that was with Nick Hornby’s “Fever Pitch” in 1992. And we’re given to understand that there’s going to be a second time, a third, and more because Son of the Dragon is billed as Volume One in a series: The Dracula Chronicles. If the future installments (may they arrive speedily) are anywhere close to the quality of this initial effort, Mr Foia’s new fan base (may it multiply plentifully) has some years of outstanding entertainment to look forward to.
I’m a history afficionado and if you are too, you should definitely check this book out. Without a trace of dryness, Son of the Dragon is an impeccably researched, historically faithful portrait of a fascinating place and time: 15th Century Wallachia (part of present-day Romania) during the Ottoman-Hungarian Wars when it sat nervously wedged – between the land-hungry Ottoman Empire’s suzerainty and the Kingdom of Hungary, to which Wallachia was culturally closer but not exactly a paragon of good will. This was a time of gypsies and kings, crusaders and jihadis, dark castles and darker forests replete with robbers and wolves – real-life archetypes for the fairy tales we all know, not to mention the Dracula vampire legend itself, all masterfully brought to life by Mr Foia.
The historical yarn alone would have been enough for me. But as a horror fan, I loved this book as well. This is not a horror story, but you’ll certainly get your fill of fear and spurting gore (like I said, it’s never dry). And after reading it you may well want to go back to your favorite “traditional” Dracula adaptations with the new perspectives you’ve gained. In fact, my next read is going to be Bram Stoker’s “Dracula”, which I last looked at when I was about 15.
If you’re neither into history nor horror but just like a good read, I still recommend this book to you because it has everything a good story should have: an engaging and down to earth style, sophisticated, intriguing characters, drama, suspense, danger, humor, lust … plus it’s a coming of age story par excellence about no less a personage than Vlad the Impaler.