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by Bram Stoker
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It was good but dragged on a bit in some places. Still worth a read.
This book is one of my favourite books of all time. It kickstarted by obsession with literary vampires, and it’s remained in one of my top spots for books that I love since I first read it at nineteen years old. I went as far as writing a university assignment about the novel at one point. I do have to say, however, that my opinions on the book have changed since I last read it and watched any adaptations of it.
(Speaking of adaptations, my recommendations are the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula starring Keanu Reeve, Winona Ryder and Gary Oldman; and, NBC’s Dracula which aired in 2016.)
If you don’t know what this book is about, you’re probably not the only one. Not many people know the story of the novel but are very familiar with the name. It is, after all, the first mainstream popular vampire novel although a lot of people mistake it for the first ever, which it definitely isn’t (see: Carmilla by Joseph Sheridan le Fanu, and The Vampyre by John Polidori). A very interesting TED-Ed video actually covers why Dracula is so popular in the public consciousness. But we’re here to talk about the book.
The novel is told through five different narrators, four of whom appear through most of the story, while one tragically doesn’t make it past the second act of the novel. The five narrators are all involved with a mysterious Count Dracula, a man who has decided to buy property and move to England from his native Romania. This mysterious count brings with him sickness, death, and demonic creatures that terrorize London and Whitby, and the male narrators take it upon themselves to destroy him and bring him to justice once and for all, believing that he is a spirit that needs to be put to rest and they can only do that by destroying his sinful demonic self.
The book, for its time, is heavily steeped in religious sentiment, being that vampires are considered (as most Un-Dead are) to be godless creatures who are full of sin and demonic energy and must be purified in the name of the Lord. But my favourite thing about the book isn’t that it’s about vampires. The thing that strikes me about his book is its narration style.
The book is told through a series of letters and journal entries that all five of the narrators contribute, creating a wonderful web of story telling where narration goes from one person to the other very naturally. Each character obviously experiences the vampire in their own way, and so the narration comes from the person who it would be most fitting to see at that moment, considering the circumstances. It switches point of view very smoothly, with the book never forgetting that it is, at the end of the day, a compilation of journals and letters (and one or two newspaper clippings). The book never tries to turn away from the fact that it is the story of a bunch of people who are experiencing something supernatural together, and while they are trying to be brave, even the honourable Doctor Van Helsing, a man we all know in popular culture as a brave demon hunter, shows fear. The characters are amazingly human, except for one of them.
If you had asked me at twenty years old who my least favourite character in Dracula was, I would have said Jonathan Harker. I would have told you about how annoying he is, and all he does is whine and do nothing and just cry.
But reading the book now, I see that Jonathan is just very emotionally and mentally scarred after what he witnesses and is just exhibiting post-traumatic stress. He isn’t the annoying one in the book. The annoying one is Mina Murray.
Mina is, honestly, too good to be true. And not in a good way. Mina’s character completely revolves around her being this woman who is completely pure, innocent, and loving. So much so, that every single person who meets her in the book is completely enveloped with love for her and wants to protect her. All the men in this book do is talk about how amazing and beautiful she is and how they will protect her to no end and it makes me want to vomit. She is so boring and plain, and nothing about her screams ‘brave warrior’ like the adaptations have made her out to be. Mina Murray is not the feminist hero people want you to believe she is, because in all truth Mina does…nothing. Mina is just there to be sad and worried for the men around her and try to convince them to let her help and all the men do is pat her on the head and kiss her cheek and tell her she’s amazingly gorgeous and sweet and an angel on earth and that they will protect her at all costs.
Reading this book as a twenty-six year old, I wish the book was just about a bunch of vampire hunters led by Van Helsing, and not a book about a bunch of men protecting a woman because they thought that just maybe the vampire might target her next (I mean, he does, but that’s beside the point).
My final rating of this book is a 4/5, because I still love this book a lot and it will always be one of my favourites, though.
I mostly wanted to read Dracula because I wanted to know what were the "true" facts about Dracula vs what had modern pop culture created. I did learn a few things (like the fact that Dracula crawls down the walls like a lizard). The book itself was a little difficult and boring to read at times. There were certain parts that I wondered why they were included. On the bright side, why they were included was usually explained in a later section. Still, it made it tough to want to finish the book.
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Having deduced the double identity of Count Dracula, a wealthy Transylvanian nobleman, a small group of people vow to rid the world of the evil vampire.
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)823.8Literature English & Old English literatures English fiction Victorian period 1837-1900
8 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.
Editions: 014143984X, 0141024976, 0451530667, 0141325666, 0141045221, 0451228685, 0143106163, 0141199334
Hachette Book Group
An edition of this book was published by Hachette Book Group.
2 editions of this book were published by Urban Romantics.
Editions: 1907832521, 1907832653
An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.
An edition of this book was published by Recorded Books.
There was so much I enjoyed in this book. The first being the descriptions especially of Whitby. I've been to Whitby and it is one of my favourite places here in the UK. Bram Stoker stayed in Whitby and got a lot of his inspiration for the book there. The places he mentions he has very accurately described especially around the steps and the graveyard.
The story is full of gothic atmosphere, especially I felt the beginning of the book when Jonathan Harker is at Castle Dracula. I also really enjoyed the graveyard scenes when Van Helsing and others were after the vampire Lucy. I found this very creepy and what a vampire book should be like.
Being a classic I did find the book easier to read than some others such as the Bronte novels. I did however find the book very wordy. This was the case I felt when Van Helsing was talking, gosh he could go on and on. The first half of the story I really enjoyed and this held my interest for a long time. The second part of the book I did feel dragged and went quite slowly up until the end of Dracula was close.
As for Dracula himself he doesn't feature in the story much. He is one famous character in horror fiction and the genre of all things spooky, but appears more of a presence in the background.
I'm glad that I have now read Dracula, enjoyed the story, myth, folklore but found the book slow at times but full of gothic creepiness. ( )