'Dracula's Guest' Collection Returns Vampires to Creatures of Terror

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Most vampires aren't handsome, romantic or protective. They kill. When they rip out your throat, you die smelling corpse breath and terrified.

If you need proof, read "Dracula's Guest," a superb collection of vampire fiction -- and nonfiction -- from writers dealing with the undead.

Michael Sims has culled stories from the Victorian era to make a collection guaranteed to delight anyone who enjoyed Bram Stoker's "Dracula."

Queen Victoria reigned from 1837 to 1901, but Sims stretched his selections to the beginning of World War I in 1914. He includes several nonfiction pieces reaching back to the 1700s.

In "Dracula's Guest," the vampires run from those who slowly drain the spirit -- "Good Lady Ducayne" -- from their victims to those who are frightening enough to give nightmares.

There is nothing seductive about the vampires in Aleksei Tolstoy's "The Family of the Vourdalak," set in Serbia, where family sentiment overrules the final warning words of grandfather Gorcha, and all the family dies only to come back and hunt an unwary suitor.

"I turned away from (the daughter) Sdenka to hide the horror which was written on my face. It is then that I looked out the window and saw the satanic figure of Gorcha, leaning on a bloody stake and staring at me with the eyes of a hyena. Pressed against the other window were the waxen features of Georges, who at that moment looked as terrifying as his father. …