Review of DRACULA by Bram Stoker


Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK Fiction
Price: £7.99
Pages: 444
Genre: Gothic/Horror/Travel/Adventure
Year: 1897


(CAREFUL! if you don't know the story yet, this SPOILERS a lot!)


I didn't know the story of Dracula before I read this book. I obviously had heard the names Dracula and Van Helsing before, but I didn't know what the book would be about. However, while I read it I found out that I had had a certain idea of what Dracula would be about, because this book was nothing like it.

It took me forever to get through the first 10 pages and I thought to myself, "How should I ever get through 440 pages of this?"
The first pages consisted almost entirely out of elaborate description that made my mind slip away very often - I just couldn't concentrate on it.
I didn't know what to do so I thought maybe I could listen to it as an audio book and found the one spoken by Christopher Lee on Spotify. This audio book seemed very fascinating because of Christopher Lee's captivating voice and a dark background music. But because it was a shortened audio book I couldn't read the book along to it, so I stopped listening to it.
I can, however, definitely recommend it as a way of getting the motivation to continue this book in the beginning.
I then proceeded to read the book aloud to myself, and this helped immensely to get slowly into the writing style and the whole story. I concentrated way better on the sentences and my mind didn't wander off anymore. This "technique" also made me appreciate the writing style of the book and just helped me to not lose concentration between too many descriptive words.
In hindsight I must say now, that since the first 50 pages are solely written in Jonathan Harker's journal, it was no wonder that it took me longer to get into it because I always liked his chapters the least.

I was very much fascinated by the structure of the book, which felt quite modern to me and wasn't at all what I had expected. The whole book is written in the form of journal entries and letters, which makes it a very different reading experience.

The character of Count Dracula, who unfortunately didn't get to appear as often as I had expected and hoped him to, was very fascinating to me during the first 50 pages of the book. I immediately related to his love for London and it really surprised me that such a hyped figure and myth as Dracula turned out to be someone with the same love and interest for London as me. I had most certainly not expected to have anything in common with him.
Dracula felt very likeable after only a bit of dialogue with Jonathan Harker and I could again relate to him when he gave insight to his insecurities concerning the English language and that he wanted to perfect it and definitely not be outed as a foreigner in England. That really created a bond between him and me in the beginning of the book.

I found it extremely fascinating that after all the vampire stories I've read, listened to or mostly watched, that this old story could still thrill and fascinate me. I had sort of thought that all the classic superstitions of what could bring harm to a vampire would seem stupid to me now that I've seen so many modern adaptations of it. But while I think that movie adaptions can now feel too old because of bad special effects or bad quality, books never really get that old - only the language, which also didn't feel that old in the book, save some old-fashioned words.
And although I expected the vampire topic to feel dealt with too many times already, Dracula really managed to create an uneasy atmosphere within this story and that fascinated me a lot. I didn't feel scared but rather respectful of Count Dracula and uneasy.

I was very much suprised by the part that German played in the story, mostly in the beginning. I just never associated Dracula with anything German before. But as I began to realise while reading - I had had no idea of this story at all beforehand.

The plot developed quite quickly throughout the first 50 pages and very much happens within these already, almost too much. After these 50 pages the tone of the novel changed completely. It slows down immensely and the actual plot seems to be forgotten for a while and instead it feels like a completely different story. I was really confused by that change and it took me a while to get back into the story again.

I found it rather sad that Count Dracula does only really appear at the beginning of the story and then only acts in the background and is only seen as a monster from thereon. During the first 50 pages I really saw him as a rounder character that created a conflict for the reader because I could relate to him and therefore couldn't just condemn him as a monster. Unfortunately, exactly this was done for the rest of the book. I wished that there would have been more complexity to his character throughout the whole book. To not have him act in the foreground anymore made it very easy to only see him as a monster while that was much harder in the beginning of the story.

All the vampire hunters, whose diaries and letters tell the whole story, were extremely nice, lovely and overall incredibly caring to one another. That really continued to surprise and heartened me. And although the book, published in 1897, portrays a rather old-fashioned idea of the roles that women and men have, it was still very nice towards both.

The book definitely has its lengths but after one gets into it and gets comfortable with the writing style, it reads itself surprisingly well. It's definitely a good book but there isn't really ever a tension in it because of the journal entries-writing style. It is obvious that the person who has written an entry will not get harmed within their entry because they state at the beginnig of it where they are now and how they are. And all the entries are rather a documentation, a retelling of what has happened and therefore not really supposed to create any tension.

It's most definitely utterly different from what I was expecting it to be when I heard of DRACULA; I always thought that the character of Dracula would also be the main figure in it and that he would get hunted only by Van Helsing. Speaking of Van Helsing, his English was very strange and incorrect but didn't bother me much throughout the whole book but within the last pages it seemed to get even worse and that was rather hard to read.

The whole book always seems to strive towards some sort of climax or battle but never really arrives there. The story takes much more time telling about all the journeys that lead to something than really telling about any climax. Still I found it a bit disappointing that the great anticipated climax never really happened and therefore I found the ending rather anticlimatic.

Yet the story definitely created a unique atmosphere and felt different to everything that I've read before. Also the fact that the book was so entirely different to what I expected it to be was fascinating to me. It was most definitely a very interesting, different and unique read and I really enjoyed it.


I award this book with 4 out of 5 stars.

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