Synopsis: When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes a series of horrific discoveries about his client. Soon afterwards, various bizarre incidents unfold in England: an apparently unmanned ship is wrecked off the coast of Whitby; a young woman discovers strange puncture marks on her neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the ‘Master’ and his imminent arrival. In Dracula, Bram Stoker created one of the great masterpieces of the horror genre, brilliantly evoking a nightmare world of vampires and vampire hunters and also illuminating the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.
Author: Bram Stoker
Publisher: Penguin Classics
Shamefully, I have never read Dracula before. There, I said it. I’ve seen about 10 different versions of the film, read quite a few vampire novels but have never picked up Bram Stoker’s masterpiece until now.
The story was maybe a little too familiar to me, but this didn’t detract too much from reading the book. Following the ‘David vs. Goliath’ / ‘good vs. evil’ theme; Dracula is definitely not the glammed up friendly Hollywood vampire we’re used to, Stoker depicts a much more terrifying enemy.
Stoker sets the tone from the beginning with Jonathan Harker visiting the Count in Transylvania. This is probably my favourite part of the book; it’s incredibly atmospheric and genuinely spooky. Written as a diary, you see Jonathan’s realisation of what Count Dracula really is. There were times when I wanted to shout out to warn him what was going to happen next but, obviously, couldn’t.
As the story progresses to England, I found myself disconnecting a bit more to the text, especially during Van Helsing’s plot to bring the Count’s downfall. We see diary entries from other characters and I found some of the voices (namely the women) too annoyingly innocent and naïve. Why are we always depicted as these fragile and innocent flowers that need to be protected at all costs?! Even when a woman comes up with the best ideas, the men act as if they’re in shock and she is deemed blessed with manly traits … err… no she’s just an awesome woman! Furthermore, the only sexually aware women end up with a stake through the heart and their heads chopped off, which doesn’t seem to be particularly fair.
Sorry. Rant over. All in all, I’d love this book if you cut Van Helsing’s narrative by half and were nicer about the women. As I’m not actually allowed to change a classic, I’ll stick to saying it’s a very good read.