Author: Bram Stoker
Date Finished: 25/08/12
Re-Read? : First time read
Challenges? : Yes – The Classics Club & The Literary Classics & The Victorian Challenge 2012
Overall: 4/5 – rather good
Now I haven’t read a classic since the end of July so I needed to get one read in August and next up on my TBR shelf was Dracula. I got this for Christmas last year and for some reason I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I don’t know why! I was very wrong as I really enjoyed it.
It is quite hard to get hooked early on, as it takes time to get used to the epistolary format and everything is quite confusing, but after a day or two (I was on holiday in Majorca) I was really interested.
The plot is really great in Dracula especially in the middle section of the book when you have suspicions and ideas but nothing is confirmed. At points the story is as gripping as a modern thriller and I really wanted to keep reading. However, due to the sinister nature of the plot, I wasn’t quite as comfortable staying up for hours at night on my own reading as I am accustomed to! There were times when I felt quite upset by the book [spoiler] for example, when Dracula is obviously feeding on Lucy and Mina and the men haven’t noticed – I was almost throwing the book down in frustration saying ‘just do something to protect them!’ [/spoiler]
I was very impressed by Stoker’s characterisation in Dracula, as the main little group we get to know contains some very memorable characters, most notably Van Helsing, the Dutch Professor. The position of women in the 19th Century is quite clear, but Stoker certainly has a point to make there: Mina is very resourceful and useful and ultimately the one who solves all the problems which is quite something for a 19th Century novel, I think. The characters were intricate and a delight to read about – you couldn’t help but support them.
How could I not discuss Dracula himself and the whole creation of the quintessential vampire that Stoker created? He really gets the balance between creepy and believable right. Ok, when it is during the day and you’re lying on a Majorcan sun-lounger nothing seems too bad, but when it’s night time and quite something about Dracula is very scary even today when vampires are almost embraced (thanks for that, Twilight…). Speaking of Twilight and all modern vampire fiction, I think everyone who says they love all those novels should read this and see where it all stemmed from – beautiful, powerful, terrifying vampires are nothing new and I think that is being forgotten. I think people may be surprised at how many similarities they would stumble upon.
The Transylvanian setting is so iconic and creepy! It is great to read about and I love settings I know nothing about – Romania for example, especially in the 19th Century! – although some of the long description at the start of the book (before I got into the storyline) was a bit tedious. Having said that, Stoker’s prose was superb throughout and was really quite easy to read – I thought beforehand that may have been an issue.
All in all, I am very glad I put this on my challenge lists and that I just went for it – it shows how “judging a book by its cover” is still bad 😉 I would heartily recommend this book to all of you. I am torn between awarding a 4 and a 5, as I didn’t love it the way I loved David Copperfield or TKAMB, but I liked it a lot more than most other 4s, like Wuthering Heights. I will stick with a 4 for now, but it is definitely going straight on the re-read list!