My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Publication Date: first published 1897
Publisher: W.W. Norton & Company
Point of View: 1st Person & Alternative
Recommended Age: 16+
Genres & Themes: Adult, Classics, Vampires, Gothic
The aristocratic vampire that haunts the Transylvanian countryside has captivated readers’ imaginations since it was first published in 1897. Hindle asserts that Dracula depicts an embattled man’s struggle to recover his “deepest sense of himself as a man”, making it the “ultimate terror myth”.
I turned the first page of this universally loved classic thinking that I was going to plunge into one of the world’s best love stories ever written, between Dracula and a lovely lady.
Say what? Love story? BOUAHAHAHAHAHAHA.
Right. I blame modern TV shows and movies for growing that thought into my mind over the years. Dracula is such a romanticized character nowadays that being exposed to his true – Bram Stoker style – self made me take a step back and reconsider my first opinion of him, which was mainly positive.
He’s not sexy. He’s not charming. And he’s certainly not your dream man. He won’t even care to whisper lovely words into your ear before taking hold of your mind and stealing your life away, AKA your blood. Who knows, maybe you’ll be lucky and, instead of slowly killing you, he’ll simply decide to turn you into a vampire. But, really, that’s just as bad.
Now that we’ve made that crystal clear, we can actually start talking about the book. This is probably the nastiest and creepiest classic I’ve ever read. It starts off with Jonathan Harker paying a visit to count Dracula who wants to buy a house; Jonathan is in charge of the paperwork. During his visit, Dracula is extremely courteous with him, but Mr. Harker quickly realizes that his host is not who he pretends to be.
That he’s an incarnation of the devil.
In this book, you will find vampires at their most clichéd form – which makes sense, since it was written in the 19th century, the period when the theme of vampirism prospered after its beginnings in literature.
So you’ll find vampires who 1 – drink blood, 2 – sleep in coffins, 3 – fear light, 4 – have no reflection, 5 – possess incredible power, 6 – can turn into bats, 7 – can disappear into nothingness, 8 – are hurt by garlic and religious artefacts, etc. You get the idea.
As for the story itself, I liked it. It’s horrifyingly slow… sluggish… lethargic—almost. Bran Stoker’s favorite activity is describing whatever there is to describe – landscapes, emotions, physical appearances, rooms, people, actions and situations – through characters.
A lot of telling and little conversation. This makes sense, since its 1/4 is in epistolary format and the rest a log of journals, but it will tire you at some point. From time to time, I strongly wanted to shake some conversation out of the characters; come on! Interact! Say something! I can’t deny, however, that the author had talent in writing.
The novel’s strength is in its atmosphere. I never even thought about closing the book and cursing it for its slowness, because I was always enticed by what was wafting through the air: secrets, mysteries, darkness, shadows, dementia, intensity, fear.
When the book is closed and you look at it, all you see is oldness and, depending on your edition, a cheese picture of a vampire drinking a woman’s blood. BUT, when you open it, you’re hit with one of the most intense atmospheres you’ll ever feel. Gothic, so, so gothic.
It’s not scary per se, unless you’ve ever been terrified of uncontrollable vampires, patients suffering from dementia or small squeaky animals, but it’ll make you shiver.
I got goose bumps just writing this review. It’s a must read, despite of my shameful 3-star rating.