ebookclassics

Dracula – Book Review

dracula* CONTAINS SPOILERS

Call me crazy, but Dracula could be my favourite book of the year. It was a true page turner and had everything I was looking for in a good read: likeable characters, mysterious villain, intriguing plot, action and adventure, exotic locations, satisfying ending … I would have finished it sooner if a new personal project hadn’t cut into my reading time.

Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing.

The above description was taken from Wikipedia, although it should say “and one woman” instead of “women”. Wikipedia is also where I learned that the diaries, letters and memos that tell the story is called an epistolary novel. A 19th century Storify, if you will. A format I really liked as each character described the events of the story from their point of view, including feelings of fear or confusion about the strange things happening. Being in a character’s head and reading about their intuitive sense something wasn’t right heightened my desire for them to find out the truth. It kept me reading and reading, and regretting when I had to stop. Luckily, Mr. Stoker is no tease and he usually revealed information quickly in the story as opposed to dragging it out like a soap opera.

All of the characters are very likeable in Dracula, mostly because they have exactly the same “good guy” personality (I was okay with this since it kept things simple). The five male characters, including Professor Van Helsing, are honourable men willing to fight evil to the death. However, my favourite character in the book was Mina Harker. I don’t know why she is never placed in top ten lists of classic book heroines because she’s a great female character: intellectually and emotionally intelligent, hard-working, calm, brave, sweet and loving. Time and time again in the book, she proves her own with the male heroes, often finding clues where they have hit dead ends. I have nothing but high praise for Mina!

As for Count Dracula, we get our biggest look at his character at the beginning of the story and through the eyes of straight-laced lawyer, Jonathan Harker. Here we learn a little bit of his backstory and discover he is capable of kind hospitality, that he is intelligent and craves knowledge as much as he craves companionship. But his gentle disposition quickly turns into menace as he reveals he is keeping Jonathan a prisoner in his castle while he finalizes his dastardly plan (insert diabolical laugh here). Jonathan has to sweat it out waiting for Dracula to decide his fate and it’s his time at the castle that Mr. Stoker uses to paint a picture of how terrible these vampire creatures are to the reader: forming into mist, turning into bats, climbing walls, kidnapping children, being sexually aggressive.

We lose the Dracula we meet in Transylvania once he moves to England as he noticeably ceases to be a character and becomes more of a shadowy, mysterious enemy the book’s heroes try to stop. I had mixed feelings about this since the character is supposed to be a big deal, but as has been analyzed for years, perhaps Mr. Stoker only intended for Dracula to represent something deeper and darker about ourselves. A bogeyman that forces people to step up and face their fears.

In conclusion, I liked everything about Dracula by Bram Stoker. It may not be considered a “blood-curdling” read in our day and age, but definitely an enjoyable edge-of-your-seat gothic adventure. I find it incredibly fascinating how Dracula has evolved over centuries to become such a monstrous (ha!) literary icon yet moving further and further away from Mr. Stoker’s original vision, taking every possible shape and form our imaginations can bring to life. As what scares us gets crazier, I suspect Dracula will haunt our dreams less and less, but he will surely continue to spark our imaginations for centuries to come.

I can also safely say I loved the book even more than the 1992 movie that has been stuck in my head for all this time. To quote Keanu Reeves … whoa.

Advertisements

14 comments on “Dracula – Book Review

  1. Ekaterina
    October 25, 2013

    I also read the book after watching the 1992 movie, and I had a hard time deciding which I like best. The book has a fuller story and all the diverse sources (love epistolary style here!), but the movie has Gary Oldman, who is the most awesome Dracula ever… Close match!
    Mina is wonderful, there’s no doubt to it! Considering what time it was, she is very modern and independent. It is highlighted in the comparison with Lucy, who is interested mostly in suitors πŸ˜‰ Has Stoker killed her to show us that this type of women must DIE, and strong, self-sufficient women hold the future? πŸ™‚

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      October 25, 2013

      I read another review that talked about killing Lucy and how she represented a darker, sexual side to women in her transformation. I actually didn’t give it much thought while I was reading, I was just expecting her death because I had seen the movie. Obviously, I didn’t read to deeply into anything with this book.

      I really admire Gary Oldman too, but the scenes with Winona Ryder all over his bare chest … ewwwsville. πŸ™‚

      Like

  2. bovaryshat
    October 25, 2013

    I was surprised by Dracula, too. It was much more than I expected it to be. I also found the relationship between Bram Stoker and Walt Whitman to be so interesting. That’s behind the scenes, of course (AKA “real life”), but still.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      October 26, 2013

      Oh wow, I didn’t know there was a Bram Stoker and Walt Whitman connection. I will have to look more into that little tidbit.

      Like

  3. Riv @ Bookish Realm
    October 25, 2013

    I’m reading this now (a little left to finish) and although it’s not going to be the best read of the year for me I think, I’m enjoying it immensely. Afterwards I’ll probably check out the movie (or movies) too.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      October 26, 2013

      I think I liked the book so much because it was so simple and uncomplicated. Although, I’ve read several reviews now that point out how repetitive some chapters are and how slow-paced it can be, and looking back I can agree with them. I think I read the book at the right time and in the right mood.

      Give the 1992 movie with Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder a try. I think you will enjoy it.

      Like

      • Riv @ Bookish Realm
        October 27, 2013

        You are right, I did enjoy the simplicity of the book and I also liked the ending because it was in the same vein and there were no funny curveballs and what not thrown to the reader. Thank you for the film recommendation, I will definitely check this one out.

        Like

  4. jessicabookworm
    October 25, 2013

    I enjoyed this but I found the ending a little anti-climatic. I really like the 1992 film I love Gary Oldham as Dracula πŸ˜›

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      October 26, 2013

      Yeah, the story just ends suddenly doesn’t it? I think that’s why I enjoyed the book so much. It was very simple and straightforward in every way. I didn’t have to think too hard to understand it. πŸ™‚

      Like

  5. Juliana -- Epilogues
    October 25, 2013

    Whoops, I guess we have different feelings toward Mina. πŸ™‚ Oh well.

    I really liked the letter/diary format, too. I didn’t think I would like a whole novel written that way, but I stopped noticing the shifts after a while and was able to move with it.

    I haven’t seen the movie yet, but now I can’t wait! Keanu Reeves AND Gary Oldman?

    …Sign me up.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      October 26, 2013

      Ha ha… looking back I realize all of the characters were a little too perfect. I almost feel like Bram Stoker was doing it on purpose by having super squeaky clean characters vs. big, bad evil Dracula. Almost like cartoon characters.

      Watch the movie if you get the opportunity. It’s very different, but very entertaining!

      Like

  6. heavenali
    October 26, 2013

    I read this years ago and also loved it – I must re-read one of these days.

    Like

    • ebookclassics
      October 27, 2013

      It’s so interesting to hear how people have felt about this book. I hope you do get to re-read it some day.

      Like

  7. Pingback: The Moonstone – Read-a-Long | ebookclassics

Thoughts? Comments?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on October 25, 2013 by in Headlines and tagged , .

Now reading

and …

and …

%d bloggers like this: