In a strange case of life imitating art, Dracula has emerged from the imagination of Bram Stoker to occupy our reality. Go to Romania and you find the black hood and sharp fangs on merchandise everywhere, with many people (mostly tourists) believing the legend is somehow based in history. And indeed in Romania you find the gray history of Vlad Tepes. A brutal leader famous for impaling his enemies on stakes, he also had a role to play in pushing back the Ottoman empire and preventing its incursion deep into Europe. Dan Simmons mixes these elements (with a strong helping of 90s communism) to create in the action adventure novel of Children of the Night (1992).
Children of the Night starts in Romania in the time immediately following the Ceauescu regime and its concurrent fall with the iron curtain. An American blood scientist named Kate Newman is visiting the country's orphanages for research. But her work soon turns to motherhood as one of the infant children strikes her heart and she decides to adopt the boy, naming him Joshua. In a parallel storyline, Dracula, now a rich aristocrat, is aging. Making the decision to end his reign, he foregoes feeding, thus beginning the process of becoming mortal, and names an heir. And still further uncanny machinations are afoot deep in the ancient mountains and castles of Romania, leading to a clash that will decide the fates of all.