Thoughts on: Dracula by Bram Stoker

October 29, 2011

Dracula by Bram Stoker is a classic horror book written in 1897. The book was part of a genre called invasion literaturein which monsters tries to take over the United Kingdom.

  • 408 pages
  • Publisher: Barnes & Noble; 1ST edition
  • ISBN: 1435129733

Thoughts on: Dracula by Bram StokerMy rating for Dracula – 5

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At first I didn’t think I’d like Dracula by Bram Stoker and I’m surprised at how much I did like it. The novel is composed of letters, journals, newspapers articles, telegrams and a chilling ship log.

The story is told through alternating view points, the only person who knows the whole story is Van Helsing – and that includes the reader. At the end of the novel you still don’t know if you missed something or if Stoker purposely left something out. While I can certainly see how that would bother people, personally I thought that was part of the genius of the book.

I was surprised at the many themes the novel touched, from sexual conventions, to immigration and from culture to colonialism and, of course, good vs. evil. The novel is extremely atmospheric as one would expect.

The role of Mina Harker was surprising at most, especially considering this is a Victorian novel. While virtue and innocence are unabashingly hailed, Mina assumes the role of a pious woman yet rise above her prescribed roles in society to become a partner with the men hunting the monster.

Yet my biggest surprise was Dracula. For being the title character he is found very little in the novel, yet his presence is on every page. How Stoker managed to accomplish that is a mystery and is simply nothing but astonishing. The Count is a strong character, he doesn’t give up, he doesn’t want to be understood or forgiven. The Count will destroy you unless you destroy him first.

Intelligent, well crafted and well written, the book reads as if it was written yesterday. It is just as relevant today as it was in Victorian times.

An English solicitor named Jonathan Harker travels from England to meet Count Dracula in his castle in Transylvania to provide legal real estate support. Harker soon discovers he is a prisoner in the castle and noticed Dracula’s nocturnal life.
Harker barely escapes.

Soon after a Russian ship runs aground in Whitby, England. All the crew are missing, only the body of the captain is found. In the captain’s log there are tales of strange events which took place during the journey, leading to the crew’s disappearance.
A large dog is seen jumping a shore.

Later in England, Harker’s finacee Mina Murray and her friend Lucy Westenra are being tracked by Dracula. One of Lucy’s friends, Dr. Seward, is taking care of an insane man named Renfield who eats insects, birds and spiders to absorb their life force.

Unfortunately Lucy starts to waste away and Dr. Seward calls his old teacher Professor Abraham Van Helsing from Holland. Van Helsing recognizes Lucy’s illness but refuses to specify because he is afraid Seward will not believe his stories of vampires.

The doctors lose the fight and Lucy dies. Soon after, reports of children being stalked by a beautiful lady at night are being talked about. Van Helsing knows Lucy became a vampire. Together with Lucy’s suitors, Van Helsing tracks her and kills her.

Mina and Jonathan get married but Dracula learns of Van Helsing’s plot and takes revenge by feeding from Mina and making her drink his blood creating a spiritual bond. The group knows that the only way to save Lucy is to kill the Count.

Dracula flees back to Transylvania, pursued by Van Helsing and his group who are aided by Mina. Van Helsing goes to the Count’s castle and kills his brides. The rest of the group attacks the castle at sundown and kills the Count.

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This post appeared in the Book Review Blog Carnival #83.

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  • PaulDailOctober 29, 2011 at 8:59 am

    Interesting review. I had never heard of “invasion literature,” but it makes sense. And I like your point about Dracula’s presence being on every page, even if he isn’t.

    Oh, and by the way, I like your new moniker… presumably for the holidays 🙂

    Paul D. Dail A horror writer’s not necessarily horrific blog

    • zoharOctober 30, 2011 at 3:09 pm

      Thanks for the kinds words Paul.

  • Robin McCormackOctober 29, 2011 at 2:51 pm

    I enjoyed it as well. And you hit the nail on the head regarding Dracula. He was present on every page. Great review. Said it much better than I did. 🙂

    • zoharOctober 30, 2011 at 3:18 pm

      Thanks you very much Robin.

  • Alex BaughOctober 29, 2011 at 3:07 pm

    Dracula is one of my favorite vampire books, the other two being Salem’s Lot and Interview with a Vampire. But Drac was the first. Great post and I love the Batman of la Book logo.

    • zoharOctober 30, 2011 at 3:21 pm

      I never read Salem’s Log or see the movie. I did see Interview with a Vampire but I never read the book. I read three Ann Rice books and…well… eh!

  • MelOctober 29, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    I was surprised by how much I enjoyed this novel also, and like you I was impressed by the range of themes addressed. I do think the pace suffered in the last part of the book. It seemed a rather ignoble end for the Count after, as you say, having such a pervasive presence throughout the story.

    • zoharOctober 30, 2011 at 3:23 pm

      Thanks for the comment Mel. Yes, the end seemed a bit rushed, I agree.

  • Sam (Tiny Library)October 30, 2011 at 12:09 pm

    I am so glad you enjoyed the format of it, that’s one of my favourite parts. The ship’s log is chilling, as is Jonathan’s diary at the beginning.

    And you read a first edition? Jealous!

    • zoharOctober 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm

      LOL, a first edition – no no no.
      I wish.

  • RyanOctober 31, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Love this book, it’s really the one told in this style that I enjoy. Stoker managed to get the tone and characters just right so the narrative style didn’t bug me.

  • Julie @ Knitting and SundriesNovember 1, 2011 at 11:17 pm

    Believe it or not, I’ve never actually read this novel, although it’s on my TBR shelf and I had it listed as one of my possible titles for the R.I.P. VI Challenge – I think I will put it in line with the others I have lined up – hopefully, to finish this year!

  • Gently MadNovember 3, 2011 at 9:08 pm

    Wow, you’ve really jazzed up your blog since the last time I’ve been here. (I get your posts in the e mail so I haven’t seen it for awhile.)
    I read Dracula years ago. It’s my kind of Vampire novel (unlike today’s- but I won’t go off on a long boring dissertation about trendy novels). It has all the great elements of a good book that you’ve already described. I especially like the symbolism of good vs. evil and how seductive evil can be.
    Thanks for the review.

  • Dana - Lets Book ItJanuary 29, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Great review. I was also suprised at how much I liked the book and how little of Dracula is actually in it. Definitely a book ahead of it’s time.

  • Rose City ReaderJanuary 29, 2012 at 7:35 pm

    Our thoughts on this book were quite similar. That doesn’t surprise me.

    Thanks for leaving a comment with a link to your review on my review post. I added it to my post, along with a link to your League of Extraordinary Gentlemen challenge.

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