Sundays with Vlad, By Paul Bibeau

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The Independent Culture

Paul Bibeau and his wife went to Romania for their honeymoon, to visit the ruins of Count Dracula's castle. It turned out to be nothing but a small pile of bricks atop a high and lonely mountain. And it's not in Trannsylvania but Wallachia. And the real-life Dracula, a 15th-century prince aka Vlad the Impaler, has nothing in common with Bram Stoker's Dracula beyond the name, which Stoker used because he thought it meant "devil" (it actually means "dragon").

This mismatch is a weakness at the heart of Bibeau's book: he researches the life of Vlad and of Stoker, visits vampire museums, watches dozens of vampire films, meets fruit-loops who claim they are vampires... but he never gets to the heart of the "real" Dracula, because there isn't one. Dracula isn't even a myth, but a Venn diagram of myths which barely overlap.

Bibeau is informative, but not enough of a stylist – nor, despite his best efforts, a humorist – to make his hopeless quest interesting to anyone who does not share his obsession.