Bram Stoker – Dracula
108. Dracula by Bram Stoker (1897)
Length: 400 pages
Genre: Horror; Classic
Started: 24 October 2007
Finished: 04 November 2007
Summary: Jonathan Harker, a young British solicitor’s clerk, is essentially taken prisoner by Count Dracula, a mysterious Romanian client. While Jonathan is being held in Dracula’s castle against his will, Dracula makes arrangements to leave for England. Back in England, Lucy, the friend of Jonathan’s fiancée Mina, begins exhibiting symptoms of a strange sickness – sleepwalking, nightmares, and the loss of blood with no apparent injury except two small puncture wounds on her neck. The three men that love her, plus the vampire-hunter Dr. Van Helsing team up to save her from the terrible curse of vampirism. Although they are too late to save her, they (along with Jonathan, freshly escaped from Dracula’s castle) make plans to rid the world of Dracula’s influence for good. Their quest becomes more urgent, however, when they realize that Mina too has been bitten and is beginning to succumb to the initial stages of vampirism…
Review: Had I lived a hundred years ago, this book would have scared the bejeesus out of me. Had I read it fifteen years ago, I would have thought it was original and creepy and compelling. Unfortunately, however, I’ve read and seen vampire mythology done so many times in so many ways that reading the original just felt like a fairly stale re-tread. I know it’s not entirely fair to judge it based on the work that came after it, instead of on its own merits, but at this point it’s difficult to separate the book from its current cultural context. I was also somewhat disappointed to learn that the book isn’t really about Dracula at all. As a character, he’s only around for the first fifty pages or so, although his presence and effects are obviously felt throughout the rest of the novel. The bulk of the book revolves around Mina Harker – what happens to her, what her impressions of events are, and endless descriptions of how pure and noble and virtuous she is and how she is a paragon of everything that is the best of womanhood – very little of which was actually shown to us through her words or actions, but just repeatedly insisted upon by every other character. Blech. I went into this expecting an atmospheric vampire story appropriate for some Halloween reading, and that was not at all what I got out of it. Disappointing. 2.5 out of 5 stars.
Recommendation: Worth reading if you’ve got a passion for classic horror, or are interested in the basis for current cultural mythology, but it would probably actually be more enjoyable someone who is not overly familiar with modern treatments of the vamipre legend.