Sunday, January 29, 2012

Review: Dracula



Although vampire stories had been around earlier, it is Bram Stoker's sensational 1897 Dracula that promulgated the iconic version of the garlic-hating, crucifix-fearing, blood-sucking nobleman as Count Dracula, king of the vampires.

The novel is told through a series of documents, including journals, letters, telegrams, ship's logs, and newspaper stories, most written by the protagonists to memorialize their remarkable adventures.  The various writings track the growing comprehension of the vampire hunters, their planning, and the chase for Count Dracula as he attempts to relocate from Transylvania to London.

The book feels fresh and new, despite its age and multiple adaptations.  There is an innovative air to it, in part because of its fast-changing epistolary format, and also because of the gadgetry adopted by the characters.  For example, the doctor dictates his journal to phonographic cylinders and  the heroine brings a manual typewriter on their journey. 

But mostly the book is an excellent adventure story of a band of heroes fighting off an invading force of evil.  It is particularly exciting because the rules of engagement are always changing -- even as the heroes, led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing from Amsterdam, figure out the danger and adopt traditional vampire-fighting methods, Count Dracula adapts and grows stronger and wiser.  The tension is always increasing as the good guys and Dracula vie for the upper hand, right up to the breathtaking finale.

OTHER REVIEWS

Man of la Book (it counts as one of the books for his League of Extraordinary Gentlemen Challenge)

Let's Book It

If you would like your review of this book listed here, please leave a comment with a link and I will add it

NOTES

This counts as the "horror" choice for the Back to the Classic Challenge hosted by Sarah at Sarah Reads Too Much, one of the seven classics I read for the 2012 A Classics Challenge hosted by November's Autumn, and one of my "Cherchez le Homme" choices for the Vintage Mystery Challenge hosted by My Reader's Block.



It also counts as one of my audiobooks for the 2012 Audio Book Challenge. The unabridged audio version I listened to was very good, although I far preferred the male reader to the female reader.  She went a little overboard with the breathy Victorian sentimentality.  He was excellent, especially with his Dutch accent for Van Helsing that brought a necessary comic touch and made the professor the real star of the show.



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10 comments:

Barbara said...

It's odd that I've never read this one. Sounds interesting. I had no idea that the story was told in that way.

Man of la Book said...

I was surprised at how much I liked this book.

My thoughts: http://manoflabook.com/wp/?p=3917

It's also part of my League of Extraordinary Gentleman Challenge

Dana - Let's Book It said...

How have I not found your blog before? I love it. Great review, too. You use great words. Thanks for droppong by my review as well. If anyone else is interested, it's here: http://letsbookit.blogspot.com/2012/01/dracula-by-bram-stoker.html

Rose City Reader said...

Barbara: It is sooooooo not the kind of book I normally read, but I loved it.

Zohar: Me too! Thanks for leaving your links. I added them.

Dana: I am pleased to have found your great blog too. That's what I love about these challenges -- finding new great blogs.

L.H. Thomson said...

I think I first read Dracula at about 18 and have re-read it a few times since. You're right -- it's almost an adventure travelogue really!

Well, a travelogue with a nasty bloodsucker to deal with. Sooo...not for backpackers.

Caitlin Martin said...

I'm very fond of Dracula, as is my son, but we both think Frankenstein is even better. The best thing of all about Dracula is that aura of mystery and dark glamour that permeate the entire book. It's also full of great danger and gothic romance - all told a great tale.

neer said...

I read it when I was in school and it was the first time I came across the word 'Undead'. Your review makes me feel like picking it up again.

Rose City Reader said...

LH: It wasn't as scary as I had feared, but I didn't read it right before i went to bed or if I was going out alone at night, that's for sure!

Caitlin: I read Frankenstein when I was in law school and thought it was excellent. Probably due for a re-read. Meanwhile, I am so glad I finally read Dracula -- it far exceeded my entertainment expectations.

neer: One of the things I found so interesting was to learn the origin of several horror staples, like the "undead" and all the vampire weapons.

Sarah Reads Too Much said...

This is one I've always intended to read, but I'm honestly a bit scared of it. I'm glad it wasn't as scary as you feared!

Amy said...

Just read your review, and I also like the epistolary format--we don't know anything before the characters do, and that increases the dread. Your point about the "new" technologies was interesting, and one that hadn't occurred to me.

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