Amaranthine Books incredulous limited Dracula by Bram Stoker is truly dark, richly lavish, and bloodily grim in all the right ways.
Dracula is one of the first ever books to be considered a novel, one of the foundational chilling books of horror, and birthed an entire vampire genre of fiction.
Dracula is legend.
And having read the book many times, having studied the book at university and owning a few copies already, I was skeptical of spending a few hundred dollars on the “Transylvania” limited edition of 666 numbered copies from Amaranthine Books.
It looked very interesting and the word that first comes to mind, still, is lavish.
This book is bound and draped in red velvet-like cloth.
I love books and so this seemed really cool, as it seemed to frame the dark visage of the Count on the cover as Jonathan Harker first sees Dracula in his castle.
But I was not sold; it was not until I saw the art and read into the thought-process behind the binding and every facet of the myriad designs put in the book that I fell in love and had to have it.
Here is the story synopsis, and the book review continues below:
Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. It introduced the character of Count Dracula and established many conventions of subsequent vampire fantasy. The novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so that he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and of the battle between Dracula and a small group of people led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.
Dracula has been assigned to many literary genres including vampire literature, horror fiction, gothic fiction, and invasion literature. The novel has spawned numerous theatrical, film, and television interpretations.
Original Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Hardcover, 418 pages
Published By Archibald Constable and Company (UK) on Publication date 26, May 1897 and then later by Amaranthine Books
The following TFF Book Review Of Amaranthine Books’ Dracula By Bram Stoker contains contains mild Spoilers*****.
Bram Stoker’s classic is a combination of letters of multiple characters and the audio recordings of Dr. Seward in his asylum, an epistolary, and it remains intensely suspenseful, eerie, and flat out creepy from the very onset.
Meeting the Count and going through the tale, not just as a reader, but as a participant is how Amaranthine went about constructing their gorgeous editions.
The pages are all black-edged and UV-protected, the imagery and even the count on the cover glow in the dark. There are 666 pages in this edition. 666!
As Harker find himself entering Transylvania and the weird surrounds him, an unsettling ominous feeling, so too does the reader embark with that same pit in their stomach for the start of their trek.
The terrifying ordeal of wolves chasing the carriage is followed up by the dreary castle and then the lush, well-spoken older gentlemen, Count Dracula, himself, who is genteel and off-putting in the subtlest of ways.
He had eerily adopted an English accent, despite learning the language through reading about it, and his regal demeanor reveals a love for a lavish lifestyle in many ways, yet in many ways he is off – including the extra-long canines Harker catches glimpses of.
Dracula had been a plague in Eastern Europe for time out of mind and so he set his sights on the innumerable citizens of England in the 19th Century. There he could be a king, stay young, and torment the people there if only the Harker and his brilliant fiance Mina had not been so close that she could put together what had happened to her beloved and how they must get together, with the famous Dr. Van Helsing, to destroy the Count once and for all.
The tale is truly one of a kind and so sensational, even to this day.
Reading the version Amaranthine put together makes for an all-time superb reading experience for this rare book.
And so both editions of the Amaranthine Books’ Dracula have a red velvety cloth binding that is so very satisfying and fun to hold in the hand.
The book is heavy! And it is lush, yet the older, stern glance of the Count looks out from the cover.
I wish I had gotten one of the Scholomance Editions, because the book came in a coffin-like wooden box containing real Transylvanian soil from Bran Castle in Romania.
And what is more: the creators of the book actually wrote the title on the limitation page in their own blood!
That is incredibly macabre.
Having to settle for my copy it still is encompassed in a coffin-like slipcase and comes with a stake to ward off the count, a hidden message within the case, and also was limited to a prominent number: 666 copies.
Every facet, from the bat-black endpapers, to the vivid artwork that perfectly befits the story and is innovative and new and yet classic at the same time, adds up to a truly fantastic volume from the fine press befitting of one of the world’s greatest works of literature.
P.S. The next book from Amaranthine Books, Alice, is also out-of-this-world amazing, as it features more fine press innovations in binding construction and overall design aesthetic.
Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and what Alice Found There is presented in one book that is reversible for each novel along with a truly adept cover finely sewn into such an entrance to the world as you could ever hope to behold. Myriad fibers make up a trippy visual enigma tunneling you with Alice to Wonderland.
I have a numbered edition of this famous set of novellas, the Alice – Jabberwock Edition (limited to only 260 copies) on pre-order and I will certainly review it once it has been released and 60 days have passed.
Suntup reforges a classic in The Auctioneer by Joan Samson, the 1975 novel that sold over a million copies, went out of print for nearly forty years, and returned to trade publication in 2018.
The Auctioneer is a chilling tale of suspense and a literary masterpiece, and Suntup Editions has truly given the book as wild and classy a design as is befitting the story of the Moore’s in Harlowe.
To say the spirit of Joan Samson’s The Auctioneer is vivacious in these pages is an understatement.
Here is the story synopsis from Suntup Editions, and the review continues below it.
One of the finest and bestselling horror novels of the 1970’s, Joan Samson’s The Auctioneer is a chilling masterpiece of terror. In an isolated New Hampshire farming community where little has changed over the past several decades, John Moore and his wife Mim do their best to maintain the family farm and live a modest, hardworking life. But from the moment the charismatic Perly Dunsmore arrives in town, soliciting donations for his auctions, the community of Harlowe slowly and insidiously starts to change. As the auctioneer carries out his terrible, inscrutable plan, the Moores and their neighbors will find themselves gradually but inexorably stripped of their freedom, their possessions, and perhaps even their lives.
Upon its release in 1975, The Auctioneer was received with wide acclaim. Newsday hailed it “a suspenseful, engrossing novel with the most gripping and violent ending we’ve encountered for some time.”
The Auctioneer By Joan Samson
First Published 1975
The level of creepiness seeps in more and more, page by page.
It is such a uniquely fun experience that speaks to the ingenuity of living on a steadily dwindling farmstead, and using the land to get by, or in this case to read the echoes of Harlowe’s rural inhabitants while smelling the sweet forest that gave us the leaves within the gorgeous book.
And whatever printer printed this Suntup beauty, she smells sooo good (for all my book sniffers out there; you know who you are).
SPOILER ALERT** For The Following Review Joan Samson’s The Auctioneer.
It is not a stretch to compare this book to Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery.”
The tale centers on the small family in the small town falling to imminent ruin thanks to a new resident auctioneer.
Percy Dunsmore is the name that Gore, the one-man police department gives to the protagonists in John and Mim Moore, their young daughter, Hildie, and John’s Ma.
Percy is a man with big ideas for a small town on the fringes of the Boston suburbs where the population boom is pushing crime and more vacationers their way.
And his menace is instilled long before the reader ever meets him.
Gore explains that new sheriff deputies are needed – Percy’s idea, John Moore notes – and the auctioneer will be selling off donated goods to the new visiting out-of-towners at a healthy premium to bolster the town.
With a little homely nudging and imploring, Mim and John decide they have something they can do without and give them if it will help.
But every Thursday the demand for goods comes, and the new deputies remark with regret as to the accidents that start befalling any who refuse to give their weekly donation to the auction.
The writing style of Samson is tight and holds a remarkable voice all its own.
What do you do when your most prized possessions are taken out from under you under a tense threat?
What befalls the land, the cows, the children?
The maddening fright of the Moores in their plight, as the town around them is gutted, as they struggle to eat, and plan escape or an effective rebuttal is so realistic and so alarming that it carries a swelling anxiety that dials in on the reader more and more as the story continues.
The pacing is terrific and the suspense leaves you breathless.
And the book is written in a way that it could take place during any time frame in New England, as it represents interesting and intense characters in a small town we may not all be from, but we could all have visited or at least imagine.
The graceful description of the land, the pond, the pines, and the rustic interiors on the Moore’s farm all frame a fully fleshed world full of sounds and smells.
It feels so real.
At the halfway point, it seems anything can happen, any evil can come from the sharp smiling auctioneer for his private gain and any cost could be reaped to do so for the residents of Harlowe.
The madness of action sweeps over John Moore a few times, but he never succeeds in starting anything except a small fire that inspires the town.
The edginess that swallows the reader as his wife and mother wait for the deputies to come for the arsonist soon becomes a panic, as Mim continues to, despite boiling and scrubbing all of his clothes, smell gasoline in their kitchen.
The word that comes to mind as the town summons its inner fury, its Shirley Jackson-like “The Lottery” spirit, is realistic.
Crowd mentality is a real thing and the mayhem that ensues, and especially the wily fox’s getaway while the town lights its own on fire alive is the last thing I expected and quite spectacular.
The closing lines speaking of where the snowflakes fall is poignant and impactful.
Review of Suntup Numbered Limited Edition Of The Auctioneer
Suntup goes far beyond the fine press treatment with the three limited editions of The Auctioneer of which the numbered edition of 250 will be reviewed here.
The original cover art by Wendell Minor is included along with new pieces from the cover artist of Stephen King’s novel Salem’s Lot, Dave Christensen, a forward from Ms. Samson’s widowed husband, Warren C. Carberg, Jr., and a preface by New York Times bestselling author and screenwriter Grady Hendrix.
And what is more, Paul Suntup, Rebecca (Ninja) and their team brought forth three magnificent limited editions in a stunning lettered and a gorgeous artist gift edition (AGE) featuring the brilliant original cover art by Wendell Minor.
As these have yet to ship, I will stick to the numbered edition of Samson’s The Auctioneer and the sheer fun in just holding this copy hits home.
To read of such a small-town American horror story and continually brush against the handmade Indiana Wheatstraw paper boards that are somewhat pebbled and smooth and rough at the same time is remarkable.
The layout, the font setting, the paper, the old-fashioned illustrations that almost seem cut from a wood panel made up of the same art with Grady’s cover art, are all perfect for this great novel.
The heart-wrenching opening from Joan’s widowed husband is moving beyond words.
The careful thought and attention to every detail of this work has once again shown the shine of Suntup Editions.
This is a truly befitting homage and work of art to house such a work of art as was the great Joan Samson’s The Auctioneer.
Ania Ahlborn’s Brother astounds in limited Suntup Editions, and both the visceral, chilling work of horror and the incredible physical manifestation of the book from Suntup are reviewed here.
A short summation of the book review of Brother is that it is a brilliant novel and work of art.
And Suntup Editions crafted it into palpable art for book lovers to grasp in-hand.
Few tales really grab you, wringing your stomach repeatedly, like Brother does.
Here is the story synopsis as seen on Suntup Editions’ website, Suntup.press, and the review continues below:
Brother is the terrifying tale of a family’s disturbing traditions, and of one brother’s determination to break free from all he has ever known. In a crooked farmhouse off the beaten path and miles away from civilization live the Morrows. A band of eccentric recluses, the family keeps to themselves so as not to be questioned by local police when girls go missing from the side of the highway. But nineteen-year-old Michael Morrow is different. He derives no pleasure in the screams that echo through the trees.
Michael pines for a life of normalcy and to see a world beyond that of West Virginia. In the nearby town of Dahlia, Michael meets Alice, a pretty girl working at a record shop. He is immediately smitten, but his family is all too eager to remind him of the monster he is.
Hailed by critics as “impossible to put down,” Ahlborn delivers all the guilt, guts, and gore of family drama as Michael fights to attain the life he longs for. [credit: Suntup.press]
Both the story itself and the hardcover books are inspired.
From the opening screams, and the lack of surprise at those screams, Brother has you.
Ania Ahlborn’s Brother transcends all kinds of fiction genre labels, as horror, suspense, psychological thriller, and gore converge, and that is part of what makes this work so damn good.
Ahlborn seizes on the psyche of nineteen-year-old protagonist, Michael Morrow, to tell her bone-chilling tale, and he is utterly compelling.
Michael is a walking dichotomy: he is both full of dread and hope, seemingly gold of heart and yet a part of humanity at its most hideous; his brother Reb takes jabs at Michael being slow in the uptake throughout the book and yet Michael shows signs of swift insightfulness; he is a romantic at heart and extremely naïve, despite seeing atrocities the likes of which few can imagine in their nightmares and the self-hatred he has for being a part of them.
The setting is the 1980’s in the rural wooded country of West Virginia, and the fervent characters that live there are primarily seen from the point of view of Michael Morrow.
And seeing through that lens makes for an endlessly intriguing, albeit disturbing, voyage.
Limited edition photography by Paul Michael Kane.
You only have to start the book to find yourself jumping at the sound of Mama’s voice.
Michael is woken to the sounds of a young woman in distress, but what is immediately striking is that it is the sound that it is alarming to him.
He abhors the sound, but he is also so familiar with it that he is numb to the frantic plea.
The gravity of the future murder is there, and he is upset but oddly removed from her, even as he feels for the young woman’s plight.
Michael more bemoans the fact that he needs to be ready to rise from his bed in the middle of the night and do Mama Morrow’s bidding.
Limited edition photography by Paul Michael Kane.
When the young woman gets loose and flees through the trees, trying desperately to escape, you cannot help to get out of breath yourself as the vivid view from under the trees and the inner monologue of Michael draw you in.
He is the fastest runner among the Morrows, and so he must do as his adopted family commands: catch the girl so Mama can have her way with the young woman before she is literally butchered so the Morrows can make steaks and other things from her.
Michael does not want to be a part of it.
But he is so frightened of what Mama will do if he does not comply, he cannot see that he has any option but to obey.
He cleans up afterward and slices up and stores the cuts of meat.
It is as it has always been at his adopted family’s farmhouse.
The Morrows saved him from an abandoned home, and he was put into the keeping of his older brother who likes to be called Rebel, or Reb.
Reb has bullied Michael for so long, incessantly, that the reader jumps whenever Reb looks Michael’s way or says anything.
The brother terrifies him to the point of paranoia that is justified and the verbal abuse is truly just the smallest glimpse into the wickedness that the eldest son of the longtime cannibalistic family, the Morrows, brings to the story.
As Michael’s brother mixes truths and lies and starts to take his little brother to meet girls – not to scout for more victims, but to get them both dates – the horror of a twisting narrative full of insanely painful and blood-spattered experiences warps the psychological reality of a young man yearning for normalcy.
One microcosm of beauty from this story comes as a girl that Michael likes lends him a record of The Cure from the store she works at, and when he listens to it his entire soul erupts in happiness and his mind opens as it has never done before.
And then things go horribly, horribly wrong as his sister begins to dance and loses control.
*SPOILERS END HERE*
The grit in the writing is so real your hands feel scraped as you put the book down.
To take such a narrative to ever-increasing emotional highs and lows over the course of a detailed terrain, a world built to entrap the reader in its dangerous twists, is sensational.
This book is not for those who are squeamish at the sight of blood, and be warned you may find yourself choked up, nauseous, cheering, and crying all within a short span while reading.
For fiction fans, and in particular horror fans, you may have a new favorite book and author on your hands.
Brother feels as though it really happened, and that scares the hell out of me.
There is no escape from one’s brother . . . Or is there? But the cost . . .
Suntup Editions Numbered State Of Brother Is One Of The Closest Examples Of A Physical Book Possessed By A Story
While I am sure the Suntup Editions lettered edition of Brother by Ania Ahlborn is also a fantastic work of art that emanates the dark tale, this review now shifts its focus to the fine press signed and numbered state.
What Paul Suntup has conjured for Brother is nothing short of remarkable.
The cover is like a fine cigar wrapper, smooth and yet full of a crinkly texture and its colors of brown and black produce a one of a kind effect for each book.
I have never held anything like this book in my hand!
Limited edition photography by Paul Michael Kane.
The cover boards were constructed by Andrea Peterson, and each is formed via a custom handmade Walnut rag cotton paper has been coated with black walnut dye from the trees of the print artist’s own homestead.
Some softening and shellac seal the walnut and then standing bright amongst the deep tones are the title and author’s name in two hits of foil stamping.
I treasure this book.
The slipcase is heavy, hard, like acacia hardwood, and not only protects but beautifully represents the toughness from the work it encompasses.
Moving to within the pages, the endsheets are Hahnemühle Bugra and have a great feel to the palm and the paper is off-white and also excellent in the hand.
On top of the finest book design a fine press can deliver – from the chapter headings to the font and all of it – Brother features six full-color illustrations by World Fantasy Award winner Samuel Araya.
And these images conjure up a surrealistic quality that is unique and combines the weird beauty with the horrific intensity of Brother.
I cannot understate two things here:
The cover alone seems to project the novel within and is a special rare book collectors will pine over.
Two: because Suntup Editions decided to give a great book that had only previously been available in paperback a hardback en masse there were 500 copies made and signed of the numbered state of Brother and amazingly enough, because most of Suntup’s numbered books are limited to 250 or less, there are a few copies still available for sale here: https://suntup.press/brother.
Since nearly all of Suntup’s books have sold out, and most do at the hour of pre-sale (the last in less than three minutes), this fantastic edition of Brother is an anomaly ripe for the taking.
Here is an unboxing video done by our local professional unboxer Jeff Terry if you want to get a feel for what it is like to open up A Suntup Editions box and behold Brother in HD video:
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Born in Ciechanow Poland, Ania Ahlborn has always been drawn to the darker, mysterious, and morbid side of life. Her earliest childhood memory is of crawling through a hole in the chain link fence that separated her family home from a large wooded cemetery, where she’d spend hours among the headstones, breaking up bouquets of silk flowers so everyone had their equal share.
Ania’s first novel, Seed, was self-published. It clawed its way up the Amazon charts to the number one horror spot, earning her a multi-book deal and a key to the kingdom of the macabre. Eight years later, she has published ten titles. Her work has been lauded by the likes of Publishers Weekly, New York Daily News, and The New York Times. [credit: Suntup.press]
P.S. If You Want To Know A Little More About How The Forgotten Fiction Is Different & Our Mission . . .
We are really trying to achieve two main goals here:
To bolster every author who puts out a work of fiction long after the initial buzz that accompanied its release. This is something that is usually left to an expensive public relations manager or company and even with all of their powers of marketing / PR are limited in where they can place the book months after its launch. This includes limited edition and small press publications, like Suntup Editions, that are also reviewed for their physical beauty, as well as the work’s literary art and often illustrations, so long as the initial work has been out 60 days.
We love books of fiction! And as readers we have too little time to read ALL of the books that fall onto our tentative To-Read List. The Forgotten Fiction hopes that with our Yea or Nay stamp, we can definitively give our unbiased opinion to you as a recommendation that may or may not move a book from the stack to your Must-Read List.