Novel Review: Dracula

No really, we haven’t ever reviewed it before. Seriously. I checked.

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Originally Published in 1897

Get it from Amazon (Multiple Media Types)

Summary

A young Englishman, Jonathan Harker,  journeys to Transylvania to meet an elderly Count Dracula who wishes to move his estate to England.  Harker learns, all too late, what the Count actually is, and what is sinister plans are. Leaving Harker for dead, the Count finds his way to England. Mysterious deaths, odd happenings, and the ravings of a mad man lead two doctors, an American adventurer, a British lord, Harker and his new wife Mina on a cross-country hunt for the vampire known as Dracula.

Review

Did you actually have to read the summery? We all know the story, it’s one that’s been told and spoofed in countless movies and paraphrased in other books. But a lot of these works fall short of the original work. It’s good. Really good. The tale is told through journal entries, letters, and news clippings which gives it a lot of varied perspectives and tones.

Anyone that’s “into” vampires really should pick this up and see where these narratives all began. No, Stoker didn’t invent vampires, but his take is definitely one of the pivotal works in the genre.

High Points

  • Renfield. This character gets screwed up the most in film versions. In the book, he’s far more tragic and far more interesting. If there are any wannabe horror writers out there, I would highly recommend a book about Renfield from his perspective.
  • The language. English just isn’t as beautiful as it was back then. There is care in the words, even if they are personal journals.

Low Points

  • It’s isn’t so much a flaw of the book as it is how pervasive the story has become, but there really aren’t very many surprised to be had along the way. We all know what Dracula is and basically know how it all ends. There are a few things that aren’t common knowledge, like Renfield’s story and Mina’s fight with the vampire’s curse.
  • There’s a fair amount of good-old-fashioned 19th Century misogyny. It can be tiresome in places, though in the end, even the men find themselves in awe of certain female characters.

The Score

Originality: This novel is the first of its kind and kicked off an entire sub-genre of horror. 6/6

Story: The story is solid and winds along at a pretty good pace. 5/6

Imagery: This is one of the book’s strong points. The detailed and precise language of the 1890’s weaves a vivid picture of what’s going on.

Editing: Excellently put together. The journal entries, while done by different characters, leave no gaps in the narrative. 6/6

Characterization: The main characters are all fully realized, especially those narrating. We see into their fears and the questioning of their own actions and sanity. 5/6

Emotional Response: Admittedly, this is pretty tame by our 21st Century standards. That, coupled with how cliche the story has become (again not the books fault) tends to leave you a little underwhelmed in points. The characters are engaging, however, and you are drawn along with them. 4/6

Overall: The book was very engaging, far better than any of the film versions I’ve ever watched. If you like horror, like vampires, and have always wondered about it…wonder no more. 6/6

Total: 38 out of 42

4 replies on “Novel Review: Dracula”

  1. jayhawk88 says:

    Thanks to a Nook purchase, I recently read through this again. Agreed, great book, and even though, like you say, it’s so familiar, you find yourself racing through pages near the end, pushed along by the frantic pace/mission of the characters.

    One thing I did find hilarious, though, was Van Helsing’s medical advice throughout the book. At more than one point, Lucy is drained of so much blood by Dracula, her heart nearly stops, and several “hale and hearty” male characters donate so much blood to save her (thinking nothing of blood type of course, since that hadn’t been discovered at the time of the writing) that they are left physically exhausted, and must spend the better part of the day regaining their strength. Without fail, however, Van Helsing’s advice to the men immediately after donating blood is to drink some bourbon, presumably leaving them high as kites.

    • I, too, got a laugh out of that. Though it does underscore some of the technology and advances we take for granted today. Human life was far more fragile back then. We think nothing of a blood transfusion today, but in the book it’s experimental.

      Good point about the Nook (and the Kindle). If you have either of these devices, their respective stores have literally hundreds of old, public domain books for free.

  2. Erf says:

    I really enjoyed Dracula. Great suspense and action, and an easy read even by today’s standards.

    Any plans on reviewing Frankenstein? I found that one a really hard slog, the writing was so dense (and slow!); I’d be interested the take on it by someone at the Bureau.

    • It’s been a long time since I read it, but I enjoyed the hell out of it. VERY different than what we’re used to seeing from Hollywood. Surprised me a lot.

      Maybe if I reread it, I’ll do a review.

Comments are closed.