Compiled by editor (and gay horror author) Steve Berman, Suffered from the Night: Queering Stoker’s Dracula is a pretty amazing concept. LGBT authors give gay twists to plotlines from Bram Stoker’s classic gothic novel. Whether considering secret same-gender relationships and desires between characters, imagining what became of characters after the novel ended, or speculation about what took place during moments that weren’t depicted in the novel, these stories manage to convince you as you’re reading that this is how Stoker would have painted these scenarios.
We’re transported right back to that time through the authors imitating the novel’s language, capturing the tone of Stoker’s eerie prose, and using the original novel’s letter and journal structure to tell the story. When I first began reading this collection, I felt out of sorts because I hadn’t read the novel in so many years. But not only did Suffered from the Night refresh my memory (while giving it a whole new “out”-look!)…it also gave me the urge to reread Dracula.
The other aspect of this collection that I found fantastic is that it almost reads like a novel because the stories are basically in sequence. Although they are all independent stories, they follow the chronology of the original plot, so it virtually feels like you are rereading the novel…but from a gay perspective. Only a few of the stories that bookend the collection are simply inspired by Dracula rather than working as an alternative canon to the original.
Here is a brief breakdown of each tale:
Lee Thomas – “The Tattered Boy”
The opening story is a unique vampire story about a college professor who tries to help a young man whose sister turned vamp. This period piece masterfully captures the ominous feel of Dracula, and due to its context in history, aligns the sin of homosexuality with the vampire/monster/destroyer of family.
Livia Llewellyn – “Yours is the Right to Begin”
This is a stream of thought lesbian vampire love letter to the character Mina. It’s also very anti-Dracula!
Ed Madden – “Self-Portrait as Jonathan Harker”
A very short poem loaded with allusions to the novel.
Damon Shaw – “Seven Lovers and the Sea”
A look at what may have happened between the men on the ship that transported Dracula…if you catch my drift.
Jason Andrew – “The Calm of Despair”
The story of the man who became Dracula’s first bitch once he arrived in England.
Elka Cloke – “Bloofer Ladies”
Looks at the intimate relationship between Lucy and Mina through the ages.
William P. Coleman – “The Powers of Evil”
While on the journey to find and kill Dracula, Lucy’s man Arthur tries to cope with his desire for like half the male characters from the novel!
Traci Castleberry – “My Arms Are Hungry”
A gender-bending consideration of the repercussions of the deaths of Dracula and Lucy on the surviving characters.
Jeff Mann – “Protect the King”
The events leading up to Dracula’s demise as seen through the eyes of his servant, a man who loves him to death.
Rajan Khanna – “Hungers”
After Van Helsing passes, someone has to continue the fight against the undead. The man who steps up is the gay son Van Helsing disowned.
Steve Berman – “The Letter that Doomed Nosferatu”
Very clever story about a gay date…and how those closest to the story of Dracula may have felt when the film Nosferatu stole the plot for a movie adaptation.
Laird Barron – “Ardor”
Another story about the legacy of the book, this one involves searching for a guy who did a porn version of Dracula…or was it a snuff film?
Sven Davisson – “A Closer Walk with Thee”
A contemporary vampire story using modern means of communication as the narrative in place of the letters and journals of the original novel.
Seth Cadin – “Unhallowed Ground”
The final tale considers generational and ageism issues that come along with vampirism.