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Wallachia is an ongoing serial vampire novel by David Ely set in 19th-century Romania. New chapters are published every few weeks.

Decades before Dracula, the Principality of Wallachia had its share of problems long before it came to be ruled by a vampire…

Download the app to read or listen for free. Vote in reader polls that directly affect the story in forthcoming chapters.


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The audiobooks are available as a podcast. New chapters air every other Friday. Start with episode one.


Flowers of Transylvania cover Download from Amazon Download from Amazon Apple Books link Apple Books link

Flowers of Transylvania, a prelude to Wallachia, is included in the app but is also available separately for Kindle and Apple Books. 1741, Transylvania. Corina finds herself a prisoner of Count Dracula. The good news: Dominic, her first love, is a guard in the castle. But can she trust him?


You can follow Wallachia on Twitter @WallachiaNet. You might also lilke @live_dracula, a “live” republication of Bram Stoker’s Dracula that runs from the book’s start in May to its end in November.


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16. Wallachia Chapter 10: Red Tower Pass

Marley and Margareta go for a ride.

Dracula Live ’20 is nearing the end of chapter four. Still lots of time to catch up! Follow along on Twitter @live_dracula for real-time action.

In chapter one of Dracula, there’s an odd scene where the count, pretending to be his own driver, picks up Jonathan Harker in his calèche and takes him to the castle. The driver speaks “excellent German.” He addresses Jonathan as “mein Herr.” Remembering that scene, I’ve been having Dracula use German honorifics in Wallachia (”Fräulein Marley”), but I’m starting to think that’s wrong. In chapter two, Jonathan notes that the count speaks “excellent English, but with a strange intonation.” He addresses Jonathan as “Mr.,” though once he puts his names in the wrong order: “my friend Harker Jonathan, nay, pardon me. I fall into my country’s habit of putting your patronymic first.”

Stoker’s Count Dracula refers to himself as a Székely, a group of Hungarians who lived in what’s now Romania:

We Szekelys have a right to be proud, for in our veins flows the blood of many brave races who fought as the lion fights, for lordship. Here, in the whirlpool of European races, the Ugric tribe bore down from Iceland the fighting spirit which Thor and Wodin gave them, which their Berserkers displayed to such fell intent on the seaboards of Europe, aye, and of Asia and Africa too, till the peoples thought that the werewolves themselves had come. Here, too, when they came, they found the Huns, whose warlike fury had swept the earth like a living flame, till the dying peoples held that in their veins ran the blood of those old witches, who, expelled from Scythia had mated with the devils in the desert. Fools, fools! What devil or what witch was ever so great as Attila, whose blood is in these veins?” He held up his arms. “Is it a wonder that we were a conquering race, that we were proud, that when the Magyar, the Lombard, the Avar, the Bulgar, or the Turk poured his thousands on our frontiers, we drove them back?

The count, living in Transylvania, would obviously speak Romanian. By 1893 he’s learned English so that he can go to London in the novel. We know he speaks German from the text, and Transylvania had a sizable population of German settlers so that also makes historical sense. He communicates with various Slavic workers who handle his affairs before he leaves.

As I’ve covered before, the literary Dracula is not the historical Vlad III, but in chapter eighteen Van Helsing does conclude that, “he must, indeed, have been that Voivode Dracula who won his name against the Turk.” As such, my hunch would be that Dracula’s native language would have been Hungarian, or whatever version of Hungarian 15th century Székelys spoke. Historically he was a prisoner of the Turks so he would have learned their language as well.

In 1816, the setting of Wallachia, a typical peasant would have spoken their regional dialect of Romanian, and would likely have had some level of proficiency in a combination of Hungarian, German, Greek, and Turkish. So I liked the idea of having Dracula mix in a few foreign (to a Wallachian) words to show that he’s a little bit old school. Like, all languages have some number of loanwords. These will be in greater use in some areas than others. So I sort of imagine that if Wallachian Romanian might have had some percentage more Hungarian loanwords than, say, an area farther east that might swap in more Turkish, the count is going to be using all of them (and no Turkish because he’s super racist). Like in English you can say vis-à-vis or you can say “compared to” or whatever. My thinking is the count, to a Wallachian ear, would be speaking perfect Romanian but with an older air to it.

And here’s where the modern Web, for all its wonders, falls down. I can toss “mister” and “missus” into Google Translate and get the Hungarian translations for them, but that’s just the word. I’d want to know how those words are used in actual conversation. Not just talking about Hungarian or Romanian or whatever specifically here, I want to be able to know, for example, how a native speaker of language x would address a man of equal social standing to himself. Or a teenage girl. In English, for example, you’d call the man “Mr. Smith” but the girl by just her first name. Other languages/cultures have totally different rules.

Similarly, I found a handy resource on Omniglot for translating idioms. Here’s the entry for the English expression, “it’s raining cats and dogs,” (meaning, a very hard rain). From there, I learn that the Romanian phrase for that expression translates to “pouring buckets.” Great! Omniglot even has a few other phrases listed, which is helpful, but I guess I just want more.

Anyway, I think I’ll probably go back and change Dracula to have him just use Romanian honorifics (Domnule (Mr), Doamnă (Mrs), maybe domnişoară (miss) for Marley?). (Also I’m only 75% sure I’m use those correctly. The correct answer to all of this would be to find a native speaker who knows grammar pretty well.)

I’ve written a bit here about the disdain for Eastern Europe you find in the travelogues written in the 19th century about Transylvania, Wallachia, and such. You can see it in the passage I quoted here. But then tonight I was watching From Russia with Love, made 140 years later, and there’s that sequence where two Romani girls strip down and fight for the right to marry a man, and then later they’re brought to James Bond and presented as gifts.

Chapter 13: The Mystery of the Blue Flames

Chapter thirteen of Wallachia is out. Get it from the App Store and read it for free.

Marley meets Dracula.


Notes:

  • This immediately follows chapter 12. Still Monday, 19 June (old style).

  • There are several photos of Romanian clothing on this page. Pestelcă is a regional term for what’s more generally called fotă, the wool skirt. Marley being unmarried doesn’t wear a head covering.

  • The bit about Wallachian horses being small comes from William Wilkinson’s An Account of the Principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia:

    The Wallachian breed of horses is of a peculiar kind. Their stature is very small, and they have no spirit; but they are strong, active, and capable of enduring great fatigue. Those of Moldavia differ only in being a little larger in size. Some of the richest people have their horses sent them from Russia and Hungary; but they are merely meant for their coaches, as, from an aversion to every exercise that occasions the least fatigue, hardly any of them ride on horseback.

  • At the time of our story, Wallachia and Moldavia (The Two Principalities) and Transylvania had a small number of European bison left, called the Carpathian wisent (Bison bonasus hungarorum). They were hunted to extinction by 1852 (per Wikipedia). Whether they were actually delicious, I’ll confess I don’t have a source.

    The region also used to have aurochs, a species of giant cattle, which went extinct in the 1620s. Voivode Dragoş of Moldavia is said to have gone on great hunts for aurochs and bison.

  • Dacia’s “c” makes an “sh” sound.


Chapter 14 might be delayed as I work on version 2.0 of the app. I’d like for chapters to come out more frequently—I have the next few plotted pretty well out—but we’ll see how it goes. I appreciate the support and patience.

The Black Vampyre: A Legend of St. Domingo

I watched Blacula for the first time yesterday. I’d always assumed it was a campy C-list movie, but it’s really not. The makeup may look cheesy here and there, but it’s a 70s horror movie. I recommend you give it a shot.

It got me thinking about a short story I read a few years ago, “The Black Vampyre: A Legend of St. Domingo.” From 1819, it’s only the second English-language vampire story ever published. Here’s its Wikipedia page. I read it in Andrew Barger’s excellent collection, The Best Vampire Stories: 1800–1849, but you can also find the whole text here.

15. Wallachia Chapter 9: Rides in the Rain

Father Abraham visits a sick farmer.

Chapter thirteen of Wallachia should be out tomorrow or Monday. Some things I researched while writing it: Romanian peasant fashion, European bison, ciorbe (sour soup), types of horse-drawn carriages, Wallachian horses, ancient Dacia and its religion.

14. Wallachia Chapter 8: Goings and Comings

The castle learns of Marley’s disappearance.

Dracula Beats the Communists

Bram Stoker’s novel was a mixed blessing for Romania. It attracted tourists, but the legend was at odds with communist ideals and made a villain of a national hero.