Reviewer Amy Lignor: Amy is the author of a historical fiction novel entitled The Heart of a Legend, and Mind Made, a work of science fiction. Presently, she is writing an adventure series set in the New York Public Library, as well as a teen fiction series, The Angel Chronicles. She is an avid traveler and has been fortunate to have journeyed across the USA, where she has met the most amazing people, who truly bring life and soul to her books. She lives in the Land of Enchantment (for now) with her gorgeous daughter, Shelby, her wonderful Mom, Mary, and the greatest friend and critic in the entire world - her dog, Reuben
Author: Steven P. Unger
Author: Steven P. Unger
Let’s begin this way: This is most definitely not your normal, average travel guide. Yes, there is some extremely helpful information on hotels/lodging, money exchanges and exchange rates, transportation, and available scenic tours. But when you sink your teeth into the “meat” of this book, you’ll find a world that’s filled with amazing stories that’ll leave you wanting more. As I read this guide, I almost felt as if the ghosts of Bram Stoker (the author of Dracula), and Prince Vlad the Impaler, were right beside me as I took a walk down cobblestone streets through the eerie villages of history.
The beginning section follows Bram Stoker as he found his way to Whitby, which is in Yorkshire in northeast England, and the Whitby Library. Now this building is three floors and, in Stoker’s time, the bottom story offered baths to the gentlemen of the day; the second floor was the library where Stoker researched his classic character; and, on the third floor was a cabinet of curiosities – an early museum that offered all kinds of freaky and grotesque creatures. As Stoker sat below that place of horrific items, he wrote a play titled The Un-Dead; a play that would eventually become the fantastic novel, Dracula. To put this play together, Stoker did not only study up on a bloody prince from Transylvania, he also took walks along the Tate Hill Sands in Whitby, where his fictional Count first appears on England’s shore in the form of an immense black dog. Stoker climbed the 199 steps to the cemetery of weather-beaten sandstone graves that surround St. Mary’s Parrish Church, and in his head he saw his Count race up the steps in dog form and hide in this cemetery until he could feed. Literally, the places that sparked Bram Stoker’s imagination have been photographed and are in this book for the readers’ imaginations to run wild.
The second half of this fabulous travel guide focuses on the real life Dracula. Vlad Basarab referred to himself as Prince Vlad Dracul. His family was among a long line of royalty that were a part of the Royal Order of the Dragon. Vlad wasn’t a nice guy, as we all know since he soon took on the title of "the Impaler". There are factual stories about how many people lost their lives on the sharpened stakes outside of Vlad’s castle. This book delves into the history of Vlad’s family being murdered, and how he fought to re-take the crown by impaling armies that were stronger than his own.
The author takes us through the countryside, past the lonesome haystacks, to Vlad’s boyhood home of Sighişoara, which has become a UNESCO protected historical site. Here, are the streets, homes, and churches that surrounded Vlad before he became the frightening character in history. We are then taken to Vlad’s seat of power where he reigned over his people. The most evil place along the path was the mountaintop fortress in Poenari. There are 1,480 steps leading up the mountain in order to reach a wooden bridge extending over a gorge to the ruins of the fortress. This is the place where Vlad’s wife threw herself out the window in order to escape death on the stake at the hands of Vlad’s brother, Radu.
The history is powerful and the photographs are simply fantastic. The author has done an absolutely remarkable job of putting these facts, images, and stories together; and I enjoyed it immensely. Not only do I want to visit every site that I’ve read about (especially the amazing clock tower that stands in Sighişoara; and, the bench dedicated to Bram Stoker where he first saw the character that would haunt people’s nightmares for the next million generations), but I’m also going to go to the library and pick up Dracula once again. Even though the whole world wants to make vamps into the new “pretty” people, I am all for the days of black capes and fangs…a true classic, thankfully, never dies.