When you hear the word vampire what do you picture? A sparkly 180-year-old man with an obsessive love for a teenager? Maybe you picture a heroic and sexy bad-ass who comes to save humanity from the horrors of the world? Well, the modern take on vampires is really more of a Halloween costume idea than a terrifying baby-eating monster.
Count Dracula is looking to move from boring old Transylvania to the more lively city of London. He plans to get away from the garlic wielding townspeople and create more vampires out of the unsuspecting Londoners. To help him with the estate transaction, lawyer Johnathan Harker travels to Transylvania. However, upon arrival Johnathan soon realizes he’s more of a prisoner than a guest. Upon his stay at Castle Dracula Johnathan realizes the Count is rather odd; he disappears all day, never seems to eat or drink, and sleeps in a coffin. When he has a chance ,Johnathan escapes back to the safety of England and his fiancé Mina Murray. While Johnathan is off with the vampire Mina and her friend, Lucy Westenra have been in contact sharing their miseries with one another. Mina worried sick about her future husband’s extended stay with the Count and Lucy with her very complicated love life. When Lucy visits Mina they both hear about a troubling ship-wreck just off the coast of Mina’s town. Soon after,Lucy begins acting strangely, she starts sleepwalking and one night Mina follows her and sees the Count sucking blood from her neck. Subsequently, Lucy dies and becomes a vampire herself, eventually being beheaded and staked by the men of the town and laid to rest. Now with a vengeance our dynamic duo Mina and Johnathan partner up with the annoying Dr. Van-Helsing to kill Count Dracula. After destroying his boxes of earth, killing three female vampires & sealing Dracula out of his own castle, the men descend upon him with knives and kill him, saving the world from this monster.
So let’s talk about the OG vampire himself, Dracula. He wasn’t exactly the first vampire to be imagined, however, he was the first who got everyone’s attention. Dracula is a blood-curdling, terror-inducing, super creepy monster who has caused people throughout the ages to lock their doors and believe in the power of stinky garlic. In this book, his presence comes with a sense of dread and unease, at least when Stoker bothers to mention him. For a book named for the main baddy, you’d think he’d have more than a handful of appearances. This is one of my main gripes about the classic, the book named for the scariest of vampires really only features Dracula in the beginning and near the end. It was kind of a disappointment on how little his presence is.
This book is told found-footage style. Through a compiled series of notes, telegrams, letters and journal entries it almost feels like the reader is eavesdropping in on the other characters. I personally liked this aspect because it allows for different character viewpoints and a multitude of perspectives. I also really enjoyed the slow building suspense this way of storytelling provides. From each character, the reader can draw upon their growing feelings of doubt and uneasiness as the book goes on. This to me is the reason I mainly read this book during the daytime & looked over my shoulder a little more often. The increasing suspense coupled with a few deaths leads the reader well aware that this is a gothic horror.
This classic from 1897 brings along the language of the 19th century. Thoroughly detailed imagery, conversations that go on for pages, & elaborate wording command this book. It does a wonderful job of setting the scene & although some might find it a bit cumbersome I enjoyed every minute of it. I thought the writing only added to the imagery and timing of the book, it transports the reader back to a time where vampires and creatures alike ruled the night.
As for the ending, I only have one word… disappointing. The group must come together to destroy Dracula’s boxes of earth, to save Mina from a fate worse than death they must kill Dracula himself, and they do. Then that’s it. For a villain that had little appearance, who terrorized the locals & had a master plan to create more monsters, he dies at the hands of a few rag-tag humans while only taking down one of them. Maybe it’s just the modern fight scenes I’m used to but the ending was extremely underwhelming. It almost felt like Stoker had gotten tired and needed to push out the novel before he died of boredom.
So overall the classic Dracula gets a 7/10 from me. I liked the slow building horror and unease the book creates. The compiled letters and journal entries gave me multiple looks at the same story, and I really enjoyed the detailed conversations that were recorded. However, the book named after the main character only showed him a couple of times and I was left with a less than thrilling ending. If I could go back and beg Stoker for a more enthralling final scene or just to add in a few more bits of Count Dracula I’d be happier. But as it stands today, a 7/10 for the vampire novel that could’ve done with a little more bite.