Sunday, 19 February 2012

Dracula by Bram Stoker

I will first state that this is a reread for me. The first time I read this book I believe I was about 12 and, whilst I did forget most of the content, it remained as one of my favourite books ever since. My reason for wanting to reread this (apart from it being a part of the challenge I was participating in) was that I wanted to remember why it had kept such a special place in my reading heart. Now this could've gone one of two ways and I was well aware of this. I could've read it and realised that it no longer held such an appeal to me or it could've reinforced my reasons for keeping it at the top of my list.

Thankfully for me this time of reading it only reminded why I loved this book! It's written in the form of letters & diary entries from different points of view. This is a very good form if done well, sticks to the timeline - as jumping around can get confusing in this form - and usually works best if it's a longer novel as it doesn't need to be too rushed to get all the facts out. The review that follows will be as non-gushy & spoiler free as possible, considering my love for this book, I apologise for any biased, gushy feelings that may crop up.

Written in 1897 this book is a true gothic horror novel that follows the travels of Jonathan Harker as he has to go see a client in Transylvania to provide legal support to Count Dracula, who has recently purchased some real estate over in England that was overseen by Harker's employer. We the reader, eagerly read through his diary entries as what Harker encounters are images from the worst nightmare as he realises that, not only has he been made a prisoner in the Count's castle, but also that the Count is not as he seems. As Harker slowly comes to the realisation that he must escape the castle or die we leave him, unknowing, to go back to England where we are introduced to his fiancee Mina Murray and her friend Lucy Westenra, who has just become engaged herself.

What follows is a series of dreadful events that occur once the Count has arrived in England (in a rather dramatic way), that center around Lucy. With Lucy becoming a target of the Count, the book brings in someone who has now become as well known as being Dracula's foe as Dracula himself.

With more people becoming aware of Count Dracula's true presence what follows is a battle of wits and survival. All played out through diary entries & letters we see the human spirit jump to the fore as it is threatened with something so darkly evil & never before known that threatens the existence of themselves and, more importantly, those they love. The book takes you from the cities and small beach towns of England to mad, dashing journeys through Europe by any means of transport possible.

The description of Dracula and his powers have lived down through the centuries, although it is probable that Stoker used earlier vampire novels as sources for inspiration, and many (but not all) modern views on vampires still refer back to these 'rules'.

I adored reading this book, Stoker's use of the epistolary format makes it that more suspense ridden and helps to put across each of the characters very well. Through them we get a real feel of how each person views the events in their own, individual way. I found that this was very well done, each entry flowed on from the other and stuck to the correct timeline in a way that didn't allow the reader to get lost in the story.

I suggest this as a read for anyone who enjoys gothic literature or is currently still on the 'vampire kick', it will help give you some classic reading background. This book is full of action and blood-sucking and really gives that dark, tense feeling that is so prevalent in gothic novels (hence the name). Definitely staying on my shelf to read again & again.


Jeremy Blackman said...

Nice review. At the risk of starting an obsession, have you seen the Folio Society's edition of this?

kimba88 said...

I loved this book....great i want to pull it out and read it again.

Anonymous said...

I continue to work my way through the classics. I haven't read this one yet, but it is on my ereader. Great post.
-FABR Steph@FiveAlarmBookReviews