“Dracula’s Guest” is a fast-paced suspenseful thriller that chronicles one night’s frantic misadventures of a British tourist in Munich, Germany.
Told in a first-person narrative style, we never learn the identity of the narrator, the British tourist. The story opens at a hotel with the tourist departing on a coach ride with a very nervous driver, and a cautious hotelier who arranges the excursion.
Both the hotel owner and the driver are very much aware of the fact that the tourist’s wanderings are on “Walpurgis Nacht“, which is said to be the night when witches commune with their gods, and generally not a night to be setting out on adventures. Whenever the driver is asked about the significance of this night he sputters and mutters through unclear answers. The tourist never understands what the night is about.
After a short drive, the horses suddenly become nervous and skittish, and the driver refuses to go down one road, hurriedly explaining that a vacant and probably haunted village laid ahead and he refused to go further. Of course, this piques the tourist’s curiosity and he leaves the carriage, driver and horses to proceed on foot toward the abandoned town.
|The cover of the FeedBooks
version of the short story
On the way, a freak snowstorm whips up seemingly out of nowhere, and the tourist endures a night of supernatural terrors before he is rescued by a search team tasked specifically with locating him. I won’t spoil your read by revealing his experiences.
By the time the tourist is returned safely to the hotel, you almost forget that Dracula is named in the title of the work, but you are reminded of this on the very last page of the story. All gothic horror stories rely on a twist in the story line, but the twist in this one is delivered so abruptly and finally, that you get the sense there was originally supposed to be something more to it. The work feels almost unfinished and the conclusion somewhat unsatisfying. It reads like some of the campfire ghost stories I learned while at summer camp.
The Internet Archive features a wonderful high-resolution colour scanned PDF by bramstoker.org of a 2nd Printing of “Dracula’s Guest and Other Weird Stories“, a collection of short works by Bram Stoker. The Preface to the book, written by Stoker’s wife Florence after his death, tells that the story of Dracula’s Guest was actually included in a draft of the famous novel “Dracula”, but was “originally excised, owing to the length of the book”. She said in the Preface that her husband may have wanted it edited, but she considered it “fitting and proper” that it be released as he left it.
Given this context, that it is an unpublished and unedited chapter from “Dracula”, the narrative style and the rather abrupt ending of the story seem to fit better. It was part of a larger story, and therefore was probably never intended to be a self-contained story by itself, but perhaps intended as an exposition of the mystique of Dracula.