After the LAST story I read from Stoker, THE CHAIN OF DESTINY, which I reviewed (unfavorably) in a separate article this week, I needed to read something from the master to reaffirm my faith in him. Something good. Something other than DRACULA, as my goal in reading and/or rereading Stoker’s other, lesser known works was to properly appreciate them away from the titanic shadow cast by the novel and the character of Count Dracula. A DREAM OF RED HANDS fit the bill, although it isn’t exactly a Horror story. It’s more of a morality play, and an affirming one at that. It’s sweet, even, in its way. Uplifting.
Stoker writes the story first-person, and his narrator has a friend who suffers from a recurring nightmare brought about by a crime he committed in his younger days. Though justified, he killed a man in a fight. For this crime, he fears eternal damnation, a fate which he is reminded of every night in his sleep. There are only two possible resolutions to the story: either the man will find redemption or he won’t. Since I already told you the story was uplifting, you can figure out which of the two Stoker goes with. It’s the symbolic way in which the man finds that redemption, though, that makes this one something more than predictable, that and the fact that you care, one way or the other. Like his character, Stoker redeemed himself with this story after the dullard that I read previously.