Dracula’s Guest was first published in 1914, two years after Stoker’s death, and is generally believed to be an early chapter of Dracula that was cut from the book to reduce its length. The central character in the story is never named, but if the story really was intended to as an early chapter of Dracula then it is fair to assume that the young Englishman is Jonathan Harker.
The beginning of the story finds the young man leaving Munich by carriage. It is Walpurgis nacht and the carriage driver, Johann, is uneasy about the trip and wants to get home before dark.
Once en route the Englishman notices another road winding through a valley. It appears that the road is little used and it seems so inviting to him that he proposes a detour. Johann, though, is horrified by the idea and states that the road leads to a village that has been deserted for hundreds of years. It is an unholy place and he is too afraid to go there. Especially on Walpurgis nacht.
Feeling obstinate, the Englishman dismisses Johann and tells him to return without him:
“You are afraid, Johann-you are afraid. Go home; I shall return alone; the walk will do me good.”
Johann is most disturbed by this idea and pleads with his passenger to reconsider, but he will not.
After Harker has been walking for about two hours, storm clouds gather overhead, the weather takes a turn for the worse and, seeking shelter, he finds himself in a graveyard. Alone in the dark, and with something very nasty rousing from her slumber in one of the tombs, he begins to wish that he had taken Johann’s advice.
One of the most interesting things about Dracula’s Guest is probably its connection to the novel Dracula and if the reader had never heard of Dracula I think that the final lines of the story would loose a lot of their power. Having said that, I still find this an enjoyable story. I like the way that the Englishman at first laughs in the face of superstition, but is later forced to reconsider his stance. I also love the way Stoker built up a dark atmosphere by the use of stormy weather and wolves howling. The picture his words paint is a dismal one and it is of a place that no one in their right mind would want to be, especially on Walpurgis nacht, the night when ‘according to the belief of millions of people, the devil was abroad—when the graves were opened and the dead came forth and walked. When all evil things of earth and air and water held revel.’
The Jimcin Recordings audiobook of Dracula’s Guest is narrated by Walter Zimmerman; it is a good crisp recording and has a runtime of a little over thirty minutes. Zimmerman tells the story very well and I particularly liked the way he voiced Johann’s words and the accent he adopted really helped bring the tale to life for me.