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Piercing the Veil: Revisiting Matt Hughes’ “Dracula Illuminated”

Friday, April 14, 2023 | Piercing the Veil


Blood dripping. Lust flowing. The primordial thumping of a pulsating heart on the brink of explosion, barely able to contain legions of lust and horror within its bulging chambers.

“The blood is the life!”

Our blood tells stories. The blood that flows from our ancestors, from our ancestral lands, linking us to each other. Linking us to origins and stories we’re not even aware of, not on the surface. But when we plunge into those crimson depths of time and memory and the tales that used to drip from the lips of those who came before us, we may begin to hear. We may begin to see. We may begin to feel. To smell. To taste. To remember.

In 1897, an Irishman unleashed a tale upon the world that would speak to his own personal brushes with death; with the devastation permeating Ireland; with the folklore and mysticism and development and fears that informed and terrorized the people of the earth. A time when humankind viewed the things – the monsters –  that populated the darkness in an entirely different, visceral way.

But then again, maybe not so much has changed.

What Bram Stoker didn’t know was that with this story, he was creating a legacy that would span centuries. Oceans of time, even. A story woven into the very fabric of our psyches; the very blood that throws through our veins. The character of Count Dracula still haunts and intrigues us, appealing to our most romanticized, fetishized, primordial desires, while simultaneously harkening to the lavish grandiosity of 19th century Victorian England. There’s a paradox here – the wide spectrum of the human experience, from the basest of creatures to the illusionary heights of the ruling class. Dracula embodies it all – the light and the dark. Death and resurrection. Love and lust.

Dracula is all.

Dracula is us.

It’s precisely this swirling, paradoxical energy that Matt Hughes’s offering, Dracula Illuminated, exudes. Almost as if made for this work. Hughes’s art drinks deeply from the well of the Art Nouveau movement, and more specifically, the Slavic Epic by Alphonse Mucha. The hand behind such works as the Dreamscape Oracle deck, the Illuminated Frankenstein edition, Edgar Allen Poe: This and Nothing More Illuminated edition, and the acclaimed Ethereal Visions Tarot deck, which can be seen in AMERICAN HORROR STORY, Season 11, Episode 5, “Bad Fortune,” Hughes is making a very distinct, very dynamic mark in the worlds of the visual and mystical arts, and Dracula Illuminated exemplifies the vast depths and shimmering spectrum of influences that Hughes pulls inspiration from.

Employing the use of line and movement to bring moments and emotions and the very elements of nature to life, Hughes carefully chose some of the novel’s more poignant scenes, such as Dracula with his brides, Renfield’s frenzy, and my personal favorite, Lucy’s brief resurrection, to accent the sprawling pages of the book with carefully placed illustrated plates, lending a new voice – fresh blood – to this legendary tale.

If stories are truly what differentiate us from the animals, then Dracula represents both – the memory of both beast and man. The impulses, hunger, needs, drives and desires. The will to survive. The hunt. The gnashing gore that lies at the core of all that tread upon this earth. The divinity in death and life, and the red cord that links us all.

To know ourselves is to remember our most primal parts…and celebrate them. And now, a full immersion into the primordial pages of Dracula Illuminated is available for 35% off when you use code RM35 at And it’s not just a discount for Dracula Illuminated, it’s everything in the Ethereal Visions Publishing shop, including all decks, all books, and yes, even the limited edition, glow in the dark Dracula Noir. While you’re there, make sure to subscribe to the newsletter, as Hughes has more than a handful of new projects nearing release and in the works. So fill your cups, my friends. It’s time to indulge is now.

Jillian Kristina
Jillian Kristina blends her love of horror and magic to facilitate healing from the real horrors in the world. Stephen King's movies and books raised her; magic and the occult molded and healed her. Find her on Instagram @root_down, on Twitter @RootDownTarot, and through her website