© 1897 Bram Stoker
416 pages

Every attorney has problematic clients,  but few can claim an actual monster. Such is the case with Count Dracula, as  young lawyer Jonathan Hawker discovers to his dismay and horror when he arrives at the mysterious count’s manor in Transylvania.  The trip was just a bit of business — finalizing the papers for the count’s purchase of land in England.  But the Count is a man who the locals fear, who can command the beasts of the earth, and who is never around during the day.   Hawker quickly finds himself an effective prisoner, shut up in a foreboding castle full of locked doors and secrets, and when he stumbles through one into the other — discovering that the Count is a vampire, who subsists on human blood —   Hawker realizes both he and the City of London are in peril.

For a century-old gothic thriller, Dracula stands up very well. It uses an unexpected format, its story rendered in the letters and diary entries of the participants, who occasionally pool their notes to get the bigger picture. This epistolary approach allows the reader to piece the story together, instead of having all the work done for us by the narrative.  (A good bit of the characters’  work is done by Dr. van Helsing, who has a tendency to lecture.)  Modern readers of vampires will recognize the creature here, but books like Twilight and In the Forests of the Night divorce the monster from his background. Stoker’s vampire is a creature of Hell,  experiencing a corrupted and bastardized version of eternal life;   his association with the devil is not merely one of hyperbole, but real to the point that Dracula and his victims are completely disabled by the presence of a Eucharistic wafer. (Not included as vampire traits are a tendency to say “Bleh!” and an obsession with counting. Sesame Street lied to me!)

From its beginnings — the dread-laden arrival in Transylvania, the creeping horror as Hawker and others piece together the truth — until the chase at the end,  Dracula remains a very effective thriller.

About smellincoffee

Citizen, librarian, reader with a boundless wonder for the world and a curiosity about all the beings inside it.
This entry was posted in Reviews and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to Dracula

  1. CyberKitten says:

    I've probably been ruined by the countless movie adaptations but I found this to be rather disappointing. i think I was expecting more drama which I thought was rather sparse throughout. I do remember some highlights though – Mina Harker was the best character in the book despite everyone treating her as weak and being all protective. The battle to save Mina's friend (Lucy?) was well done as I recall and I thought Jonathan Harker's time with the Count in Transylvania rather creepy.I LOVE The Count from Sesame street. He always made me laugh… I still chanel him to this day when any counting needs to be done and everyone over a certain age gets the reference!…and coincidentally I've also just posted a Classic review!

  2. Mudpuddle says:

    i've enjoyed at least one of his novels and some of his short stories but have never worked up the nerve to tackle the big D… maybe on Halloween Night…

  3. Stephen says:

    I was going to work in another Sesame street joke — “They discovered the Count had brought forty-eight, forty-nine, FIFTY! cases of earth, ah ah ah!” — but it didn't flow with anything else. ;-)Strangely enough, I've never seen a classic horror movie — the closest is “Abbot and Costello Meet Frankenstein”, or “Plan 9 From Outer Space”, which had Bela in it. The only horror movies I've seen have been Poltergeist, plus two slasher flicks in high school. (Scream and…I Know What You Did Last Summer, which we only watched for Jennifer Love Hewitt.)

  4. Stephen says:

    I made myself read this ONLY late at night, to heighten the creep factor! Frankly, I only know Stoker for this work.

  5. Brian Joseph says:

    I love this book. I agree that it has held up very well over time. I remember being surprised that it was made up of letters. But I really like that style so it just added to the appeal for me.

  6. R.T. says:

    Stephen, Anne Rice (which I've highlighted at my site this afternoon) has some interesting things to say about vampires v. zombies and fiction. What do you think about her argument? Have you read anything by her? BTW, the multiple narrator technique was (I think) not uncommon in 19th century literature; consider, for example, The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins.

  7. Stephen says:

    I read “Interview” years ago, but was not particularly entranced by it.

  8. Pingback: Classics Club Run I: Final List | Reading Freely

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s