Revisiting the (Literary) Classics: Bram Stoker’s THE CHAIN OF DESTINY
I’m continuing my heroic quest to read all the works of Bram Stoker that are *not* DRACULA, and I can read the thoughts of some of you on the matter. “The guy’s a complete Stoker mark,” you are saying to yourselves. “He’s not gonna say anything negative about anything Stoker wrote, so why bother with these reviews? Why doesn’t he just tell us to read all Stoker’s books and stories and save us all the trouble?” You might even have a worthwhile point—except that I’m about to poke all kinds of holes in your shared theory. Big holes, little holes; I’m gonna turn your theory into a colander.
The novella THE CHAIN OF DESTINY is pure snoozeville. If you’re an insomniac you might benefit from reading it, otherwise this one is strictly for the completists out there. There’s a decent IDEA behind the story: an old dark house and a family curse, young love in jeopardy from said curse. But the curse gets resolved about halfway through the story—and it’s rather an anti-climactic ending, at that—and the protagonist spends the rest of the time convalescing in his sickbed, the victim of “nervous strain,” and worrying over whether or not his paramour likes him as much as he likes her. What a wimp! The only thing of interest to me, other than the all too quickly resolved curse, is that the protagonist serves as a perfect precursor to and template for Jonathan Harker, the character Stoker would go on to create later, the most useless character, tied with Raoul from THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, in all of Literature. One could easily imagine Harker taking to his sickbed for months due to nervous strain, even had he never had any run-ins with vampires. I detest Harker, and I didn’t like THE CHAIN OF DESTINY much better. Skip it.