It seems like everyone is getting a Substack these days, and at the beginning of May one more author joined that list. Despite being dead for over 100 years, Bram Stoker has appeared on the popular email subscription platform—-or at least his most famous work has. Organized by Matt Kirkland, a designer for digital product studio Brand New Box, Dracula Daily is a newsletter that emails subscribers sections of the ubiquitous vampire novel piece by piece.
An epistolary novel, Dracula is narrated via letters and memos dating from May 3 to November 10. For the next six months, the newsletter will post an update each time something happens to one of the novel’s characters, and subscribers will receive an email with that day’s chunk of story. While the posts are tongue in cheek (the entry for May 3 is captioned “Meet Jonathan Harker, on a fun road trip for work, as he collects some new recipes”), the newsletter’s text comes entirely from the novel, meaning that if you’re dedicated—-or if you read people’s recaps on Twitter—-you can finish the bulk of the novel by November.
This isn’t the first time in recent memory that an online storytelling platform has attracted wide audience participation. Blaseball, the absurdist online fantasy baseball game, attracted a huge audience in 2020 after exploding on Tumblr and Twitter. While Blaseball is a browser-based game that allows players to place fake bets on teams, most people engaged with it via social media, bragging or sympathizing about their team’s results. In much the same way, plenty of people who haven’t read Dracula since high school (guilty) have been following along with the project via tweets and Tumblr posts about how main character Jonathan Harker is actually a millennial. The novel was well-received but not popular when it was first published, but in the century-plus since it has been adapted into every conceivable format, from silent films to theme park rides. This latest adaptation is far from the first to generate a community around the horror story, but it does bring a new approachability, and mode of engagement, to the classic novel. Now I’m just waiting for Jonathan Harker’s food blog.