Book Review: History’s Greatest Villains – Vol. 1: DRACULA by Swysen Bernard

The life and demise of Dracula’s inspiration.



Everyone knows about Dracula the vampire, but have you ever heard of Voivode Vlad Dracula of Wallachia? Perhaps you know him better by his nickname: Vlad the Impaler! The bloodthirsty prince was the inspiration for Bram Stoker’s notorious character, but although the real Dracula gained infamy for his favorite method of execution—impaling—few know the true details of his life. Swysen and Solé have created an intimate and accurate portrait of this vicious tyrant, allowing you to follow his journey from childhood to death, with guaranteed laughs along the way.



Title: History’s Greatest Villains: Dracula

Author: Bernard Swysen, Julien Solé

Publication: June 29, 2019 by Europe Comics

Genre: Non-Fiction, Historical

Target audience: Adult

Goodreads | Amazon US | Amazon UK*

Thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book.

*As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Rating: 🌵🌵

I wanted to know more about the man who inspired Bram Stroker’s Dracula. A graphic novel series about history’s greatest villains seemed a good way to do that. Certainly faster and more enjoyable than reading his Wikipedia page.

Unfortunately, this was neither enjoyable nor informing. All I know now is what I already knew before: Vlad III. Drăculea likes to impale people.

This graphic novel tries to make Dracula’s life funny and amusing to the reader. I don’t think that really works, considering the impaled men, women and children on almost every page. Together with the rather cartoonish artstyle, you can’t really take this graphic novel seriously.

And yet, it is not the books fault. Yes, this is one of those ‘it’s not you, it’s me’- situations. Most of the comments or references went straight over my head. It’s really hard to follow the story when you’re not familiar with Dracula’s life or the time period in general. I only got what’s happening at the beginning, because I’ve read And I Darken, a YA novel by Kiersten White depicting Vlad’s life had he been born a girl. After the part of his life that was covered in And I Darken (and that was not a very large part), I had no idea what’s going on.

But the thing is, I’m sure that this graphic novel would be great for people who already know Dracula’s life story. Historian Matei Cazacu wrote the book’s preface and found this book to be historical accurate and funny. And I totally believe him that he enjoyed this. After all, he knew what was happening and who the fuck all these people were.

I don’t recommend this graphic novel to anyone who, like me, barely knows anything about Vlad the Impaler. If you’re a history buff though, this could be your thing.

Did you know that Bram Stroker’s Dracula was inspired by Vlad the Impaler? Who is your favourite historical figure? Let me know down below in the comments!

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