Dracula by Bram Stoker
4 stars – I liked it, it was good
This book is one my friend Jakob and I promised we’d read together over the summer of 2022. We never really got around to it, but I still managed to start it before the summer ended. I started reading on September 15, 2022.
Finished on October 2, 2022
To buy your own copy of the book, click here.
The First “Horror” Book I Ever Read
Jonathan Harker is a solicitor, and in place of his boss Mr. Hawkins, he travels to Transylvania to the castle of Count Dracula. His goal? To help the count with the arrangements for his move to a new home in London. Strangely enough, though, many of the villagers Jonathan meets on the way to the castle bid him not to go and give him holy crosses and make prayers for him to ward off evil. Jonathan thinks them strange and goes to the castle anyway. He didn’t realize the danger to his life until he found himself a prisoner of the castle and prey to the monster who lived within.
I’m not sure exactly what I was expecting from this book, but I went into it thinking that Dracula would be killing many people and that the times would be dark. That is not exactly so. The story is told through messages, letters, and journal entries, which I found intriguing. As such, the book is told mostly in first person, though there are some third-person accounts through newspaper clippings and such. It begins with Jonathan Harker’s journals about his journey to and stay at Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania, but after only a few chapters, it switches to England and Jonathan’s fiancé, Mina, and those around her and others there. These first few chapters with Mina were confusing to me, as I was wondering what would happen, but I was not disappointed as Dracula, who’d been planning to move to London (hence Jonathan’s visit), arrives and begins his quest for new blood and new vampires in the city.
This book has a collection of characters, including the main antagonist, Count Dracula, and the team of people who will eventually kill him: Dr. Van Helsing, Dr. John Seward, Jonathan Harker, Mina Harker, Arthur Holmwood, and Quincey Morris. There is a final character, Lucy, who is quite important to the story, though her story is a bit different from the others. She is a close friend of Mina, though, and they exchange many letters back and forth about their lives. John Seward was one of the main diary writers (or rather, dictators, as he records an audio diary), and I loved that he brought everything together. He was one of Lucy’s love interests. He is a former student of Van Helsing and is the one to bring the doctor in for the case of Dracula feeding on one of his patients (though he doesn’t know it at the time). He is also friends with Lucy’s other two love interests, Arthur, and Quincey, both of whom play massive roles in their plan to vanquish the dangerous vampire. Finally, he is a doctor, of course, and owns an insane asylum, in which one of his patients, Mr. Renfield, has a particular affinity for Dracula, whose new house is right next door. It’s really quite convenient that Dr. Seward is in this book at all, as he puts everything into action.
I bought a physical copy of this book (a beautiful-looking thing with a velvety cover), but I also found an amazing podcast in which the book is read by Mike Bennett. He is an amazing reader, and I love the care and dedication he put into each of the chapters [click here to listen on Spotify]. He gives each character their own voice, specifically changing his diction for each of the diaries, and within the diaries, he gives the characters their voices. This way, you can always tell who is speaking, and you always know whose diary entry it is (as sometimes it gets confusing since it’s always first-person perspective). I’m still amazed at how he can make so many different voices!
This book was written and published in the late 1800s, and the writing style really shows. Honestly, I really love the old style of the narrative and the author does an excellent job giving each of the characters their own voices (as it is told from the perspective of at least five different people—Jonathan, Mina, John, Lucy, and Van Helsing). If I were to have any complaint about the book’s writing and language, it would be about the way women were seen as “fragile things to be protected,” but that was how things were at the time, so I instead applaud the author for showing many of the male characters as being emotionally vulnerable—especially Art.
I would also like to use this review to bring up the fact that the novel Dracula is basically The Vampire Diaries, as it is a collection of diary entries about a vampire.
I highly recommend this book. It has that high-class language of the 1800s that I like, and I found a wonderful podcast where the book is read by Mike Bennett, who does wonderful voices and accents for each of the characters.