Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Pub: Signet Classics; 1897
Pages: 389
Genre: Classic; Horror
Rating: Love it.

Upon realizing that I had never read the classic, Dracula, a good friend of mine and I decided to read it in October to get in the mood for Halloween. It's interesting to read a novel when you already have preconceived notions about the main character and/or story line. And really, who doesn't have an opinion about the Count? He is a caricature of our society - romanticized in the many adaptations of Dracula, given humor in Sesame Street's Count, and let's not forget how he has inspired the saturated vampirism of pop culture. It was incredibly difficult to leave behind my own personal notions of what it means to be a vampire.

Bram Stoker' Dracula immediately drew me in. Reading Jonathan Harker's journal whilst he travels to the Count's location was the perfect set up. I loved how, traveling through the towns, the townsfolk would bless him or shy away from his persons in fear of catching whatever was waiting in his near future. It was just eery enough to interest me and detailed enough that I forgot all about any Dracula adaptation I might have watched. The Count was still the gentleman I expected him to be. Similar to Harker, I would have only realized that something was amiss when I noticed that there was no one else in the dwelling. Of course, I'd be quite a bit more panicked as soon as I learned I was trapped. Harker maintained the perfect balance of heroics and anxiety I truly felt his doom when he realized that the Count intercepted his coded letter to his future bride, Mina. The brave Harker decides to explore the premises, after all, what does he have to lose. His encounter with the Count's femme fatales was extremely sensual and yet tastefully done. I can only imagine what it was like in the late 1800's, but as a reader in the 21st century, I feel if more books attempted to pursue sex and desire in this manner, it would come across less smutty.

When we leave Harker we are unsure if he is dead or alive. Stoker then whisks us to Mina's world where we meet many of the other characters, including Mina's best friend, Lucy.

Young Lucy is the focus for sometime as she becomes entranced by the Count but we are unsure how. There is wedding talk as Lucy gets proposed to three gentleman (not surprisingly that the men end up being additional characters an attempt to save Lucy and defeat the Count).

Eventually, Dr. Seward and Van Helsing become integral characters. Jonathan has escaped with gaps in his memory, Mina suspects that whatever is causing harm to dear Lucy is connected, and Dr. Seward notices that one of his psych patients is acting even more unusual. (This is of course, all very loose connections on my part: I want to give a general overview without revealing too much for those who still haven't read this).

There were many parts in Dracula where I closed the book thinking: Damn, this is a wee bit spooky for me, how the heck did those folks in the 1900's handle it. The novel not only used diary entries and letters to narrate but also newspaper articles. In one such article a ship essentially turns into a "ghost" ship as the Count hunts and preys on the sailors. Hands down this has to be one of the most haunting scenes in a book I've ever read. Hearing the Captain assume that his men have gone crazy until he gets a glimpse at the fog and creature shadow that has boarded his ship had me biting my bottom lip in anticipation. The imagery was vivid. I felt the sway of the water and the desperation of the Captain as he attached himself to the ship's wheel awaiting his demise.

I discussed this book with my booky friend on Halloween night while the kids were out trick or treating. It was interesting because whereas I found the beginning of the novel exciting and the ending I began to grow restless, she felt the complete opposite.

By the time the group realized who the Count was and what he was capable of, Helsing and group knew it was up to them to put an end to it. This part was captivating, but when the Count was on the water and they were "chasing" after him, so to speak, I became bored. After considering why for a bit, especially after my friend found that the book began to pick up again, I decided it had to do with the geography that was being discussed. I felt it was too detailed and not really relevant to me or my interaction with the story. I'm sure this would have been different had I been able to visualize what routes that Stoker had created, but I couldn't. I think I grew a bit frustrated right about this time. I just felt it dragged a little longer than necessary. And I admit, I was getting concerned that the ending might be a little anti-climatic. But it wasn't.
If you ask me, Stoker was pretty brilliant to create such a villainous character.


  1. This is one of my favorites -- there is just so much behind this novel, and I found it riveting told through the letter format! Great review!

    On a separate note, although I'm not too much of a huge fan of some contemporary vampire pop culture, I have next on my list of favorites as The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova, written in 2005. A large book, it can appear daunting, but it is fabulously told through letters as well, and I highly recommend it. We did a readalong at On the Ledge Readalongs and I posted pictures of many of the places the characters go to in that book, and it was a lot of fun to see the actual places in photos.

  2. I love the idea of discussing this on Halloween :) I really enjoyed Dracula as a teen, but this is one of those books I think I'd get a lot more out of now.

  3. I hope to read this soon. After reading The Historian, this book has gone to the top of my list. I am glad you liked it.

  4. I like this book, too. Like you, I really enjoyed the beginning, as Harker is travelling. Fantastically spooky.

  5. I recently read the annotated version and it was wonderful! If you ever decide to re-read the story, I highly recommend getting the Klinger Annotated version!

  6. Hey, that's pretty awesome. I also enjoyed reading Dracula. The style of writing as taken from diaries is really a good tactic in building suspense because then we are only able to witness what the author of the diary entry wrote down. The lack of knowledge can really be terrifying!

    Also, I found that towards the end it really picked up speed for me during the chase. I really liked how they were on the hunt and put everything into it, although I did have an eerie feeling Dracula would escape in the end.

    Definitely a good book for Halloween :)


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