Source: Already owned/Free download for Kindle.
Favorite character: Renfield.
Favorite quote: “What terrible things there are in the world.” - Mina.
“It’s in trouble and trial that our faith is tested.” - Mina.
“…death has some antidote to it’s own terrors.” - Van Helsing.
“Listen to them - the children of the night. What music they make!” - Dracula.
All in all: Although the journal entries were sometimes very long and overly detailed and I had a few unanswered questions throughout the story, I really loved Dracula. Classically creepy.
Synopsis: A naive young Englishman travels to Transylvania to do business with a client, Count Dracula. After showing his true and terrifying colors, Dracula boards a ship for England in search of new, fresh blood. Unexplained disasters begin to occur in the streets of London before the mystery and the evil doer are finally put to rest. Told in a series of news reports from eyewitness observers to writers of personal diaries, this has a ring of believability that counterbalances nicely with Dracula's too-macabre-to-be-true exploits. ~Amazon.com
My Thoughts: I did it! Finally! After all these years, I read Dracula! It took me a long time for several reasons. First of all, the font is small in the book I own, which made it difficult to read. Then I downloaded it on my Kindle and that was better, but I was also reading other books at the same time. Another reason why it may have taken me so long is the way it is written. In today’s world, we are used to fast paced novels while Dracula is detailed, the writing old fashioned and the dialogue long. The different style, the sometimes plodding pace, the archaic words such as “bestrewed” and “perforce” forced me to slow down, but it also helped me immerse myself in the story.
Stoker never visited Eastern Europe, but within the first few pages it is clear he did his research. The food, the garb and the landscape of Romania are so detailed, that although it is a bit tedious to get through, I really got a feel for the country. I visualized the imposing mountains and their dark shadows. As I read about Jonathan Harker's journey to the castle, I heard foreboding music accompanied by howling in my head. I don’t know if seeing so many movies let me imagine the story better, but it was very vivid in my mind. There is a sense of wonder when you travel to a place where you don’t know the language, but also one of unease. The fact that Harker is a foreigner gave him more distance from his surroundings and made him more vulnerable.
After getting through the first few pages of exposition and Jonathan’s journey to the castle, it got juicy. The novel Dracula is much more messed up and scary than any movie version I’ve seen. I had a preconceived notion because of film and television, but the book is different and I feel like I discovered a new story, or rather learned the true story. When I told people that I just finished Dracula, they exclaimed, “That was a scary book!” I have to agree. There were quite a few OMG, eye-widening, heart pounding moments. Stoker drew out the tension and he created beautiful atmosphere.
Dracula is told in journal entries and letters throughout by Jonathan, Mina, Lucy, Van Helsing and Dr. Seward, creating personal accounts that provides a window not only to their viewpoints but their attitudes, hopes and fears.
I like Dr. Seward a great deal. He is melancholy and thoughtful. His character seems to reflect his difficult, gloomy work and the depressing asylum. Dr. Van Helsing is interesting, eccentric and sweet. He views his friends almost as if they were his own children. (But I couldn’t help but hear Anthony Hopkin's voice when I read his dialogue and journals.) To me, Jonathan was a bit braver than many movie versions and Mina seems to be the glue that holds the group together. Although Quincy and Godalming have no journal entries I still saw their heartbreak, bravery and compassion through the observations of their friends.
Now, onto Dracula himself. Bela Legosi made him iconic and a template for all other Draculas. For all other vampires really. This image changed and morphed and created offshoots of the “friendly” vampire, the “hot” vampire, the self reflecting vampire with a conscience. However, the physical description of Dracula is very different than the handsome brooding men who have portrayed him (although he can change his appearance to fit in more easily to society). Dracula is also much more evil than I expected. He is a sadist. He is cunning. He is diabolical.
My favorite character is Renfield. Poor, crazy, damaged Renfield! He’s being used by Dracula and he is a clue right under the protagonist's noses. I like him because his behaviors are so disturbing and frightening and there is almost no figuring him out. During his short period of lucidity he shows grace and regret, which make him even more tragic. But it is during his spotlights into madness that he is the most compelling.
What struck me the most about Dracula is the friendships. To me, that is the underlying theme. The characters band together to defeat an evil threat, which is the basis for many horror stories. They trust, support and hold on to each other. They are devoted to their cause and in turn devoted to each other’s well being. The loss of Lucy brings them together and binds them. When Mina is in jeopardy, instead of turning from her in fear, they re-double their efforts. And while their first intention is to rid their lives of this enemy, they know they are also saving mankind and are willing to sacrifice their lives for this mission. Their courage and tenacity is inspiring.
It’s been very daunting to write about this novel, because I mean, it’s Dracula. What can I say that hasn’t been said already? There is so much to discuss, analyze and learn about this novel, about the author and how it has influenced our culture. There are essays and books about the book itself! It was fascinating to finally
5 out of 5 stars.