It reads like something in between a rough translation and a tale recreated from memory ... It's bizarre and somewhat thrilling to come across these passages interposed among the more familiar scenes. But if they did come from Stoker's preliminary sketches, it's easy to see why they were cut ... More damning — though easily attributable to double-translation — is the fact that the language of The Powers of Darkness has lost the fluid, animal sensuality that makes Stoker's original so startling even today ... Most disappointing to readers of the original will be Asmundsson's reduction of everything that comes after Harker's imprisonment to a scant 40 pages of summary. Probably dictated by the expediencies of serialization, this fast wrap-up means that many characters, including the delightfully eccentric vampire-hunter Van Helsing, are all glossed over. Renfield is gone. Yet for all this, Powers of Darkness does intrigue, if only by adding layers of hearsay to the original.
So the question becomes: how is this book to be judged? As primary text? As translation? Whose translation? Valdimar’s, or de Roos’s? As fiction? On its own merits, or borrowed ones, or by comparison? Judged as a work of fiction, Powers of Darkness is not good. This is largely due to the choices made by Valdimar Ásmundsson in expanding Jonathan Harker’s journal into roughly two-thirds of the novel while drastically minimizing what English readers recognize as the main body of Stoker’s work ... The boneless quality of Powers of Darkness is also, unfortunately, partly due to de Roos’s otherwise laudable efforts at maintaining the artistry of Valdimar’s initial translation. The Icelandic tradition of alliteration and its subtler cousin consonance do not translate well into English. Yet it is in its failures that Powers of Darkness is most interesting: this project exposes the risks of translating works from literary traditions markedly different from most Anglophone ones ... This translation is a commendable and worthwhile effort that will likely only be of interest to Stoker scholars, a very few obsessive fans of Dracula, and those of us who find the work of translation absolutely fascinating.
Powers of Darkness is recommended for vampire completists for a bunch of reasons, not least of which is to remind us just how good the original (and countless others) are in comparison ... This is by no means an improvement, but it’s interesting. And Asmundsson, for reasons only known to himself, decided to scrap most of Stoker's atmospheric and affecting horror in favor of some heavy-handed extras like hunchbacks, Satan-worshipping gypsies, a porn collection, and a horny blonde rampaging her way around the castle in a desperate bid to um, suck, her way back to power...Needless to say, none of these changes are improvements on the original, but if you're into campy horror and quirky provenance, you'd probably dig it. Interesting as some of the supplementary material is, you can’t help wondering why the team just didn’t let the work speak for itself.