Author: Bram Stoker
I have a dread of horror and I consciously stay away from it. But then Dracula got chosen as the book of the month by a (fabulous, classic-reading) book club I’m part of. And I decided perhaps it was time to give it a go. I really am a fan of trying and re-trying and re-re-trying genres.
That’s how I started reading Dracula by Bram Stoker.
Another first for me was trying out the audio book. I did have the ebook but I listened in to a few chapters while I walked, mostly because I wanted to go through the book fast.
Initially I’d come back from my walk and read all the bits I’d heard. But by the end, I sort of settled down specially since I happened to listen in on the chapters with the most action in them.
I’m not sold on the format just yet but I’m not giving up either.
On to the book now
The story begins with Jonathan Harker, an attorney, on his way to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania to discuss some of his (Count’s) real estate dealings. Harker finds the castle rather odd with, seemingly, the Count being it’s sole inhabitant. Soon enough he realises he’s a prisoner at the Count’s mercy. After a harrowing time he manages to escape and ends up as a nervous wreck with no memory of what happened at the Castle.
The Count travels to London in order to spread his tribe of the undead and is spotted by Jonathan.
Meanwhile, Harker’s fiancé Mina’s best friend, Lucy, begins to suffer from a mysterious ailment that leaves her bedridden. Professor Van Helsing is called in to help diagnose her. He recognises the signs of a vampire attack and gets together a small group of friends including Mina and Jonathan to help get rid of Count Dracula.
First, a few ‘Dracula’ facts
- Dracula wasn’t the first vampire book to be published though it certainly is one of the most famous as ‘Dracula’ became synonymous with vampires.
- Stoker took the name Dracula from the Romanian ruler Wallachia Vlad III Dracula who had a reputation for cruelty.
- Stoker claimed he had a nightmare, caused by eating too much crab meat, about a ‘vampire king’ rising from his grave.
Moral of the story: Eat Crab meat and spin out captivating tales.
- In Old Romanian language, the word dracul meant ‘the dragon’ and Dracula meant ‘son of the dragon’. In the present day however, dracul means ‘the devil’.
The story is old in an epistolary format through journal and phonograph entries of various characters, helped along with a few newspaper clippings.
While Harker’s account was a page-turner, the pace falters through Lucy’s illness and there were times I wondered if it was worth it to continue. But it picks up towards the second half. As Dr Helsing and his friends get closer to catching the slippery Count, it gets gripping.
Yes, the book was scary and a tad gory and I may never (voluntarily) read a horror book again. However, I just might consider reading Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot which, he says, is inspired by Dracula. The only other one I’ve read by King is Carrie and that gave me some solid nightmares.
That said, I am glad I read this one. It is, after all, the daddy of all vampire books. I’m guessing this is where Stephanie Meyer got her inspiration from. There was also a bit of legilimency, so Stoker was there before Rowling.
For all those reasons this one must be read.