Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

“…I could feel the hot breath on my neck. Then the skin of my throat began to tingle as one’s flesh does when the hand that is to tickle it approaches nearer, nearer. I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the super sensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. I closed my eyes in languorous ecstasy and waited, waited with beating heart.”

It is with much humble pleasure and astounding glee, that I bring this review to you.  It took me 5 (marvelous!) years of Readers Imbibing Peril challenges, but I finally got Dracula by Mr. Bram Stoker read.  Can I get a round of applause?  I feel like I really accomplished something.

I have no IDEA what was wrong with me; (I guess it was a timing issue) but I fell head over heels in love with this book. It’s not that I thought it would be scary; it was not really scary at all.  I will admit to having a couple of vampire dreams though….  The grandfather to Twilight, the Vampire Diaries, and hundreds of other vampire books, movies, TV shows and such, trumps them all. Stoker kicks their collective end-papers! Dracula is, without a doubt, the best vampire book I have ever read.

One of my favorite authors evah is Wilkie Collins, which many of you probably know.  I rarely let a chance go by to expound on my love of all-things-Wilkie slip by me!  My absolute favorite book by Collins (so far) is The Woman in White.  Dracula is very similar to The Woman in White’s style, as it is told in letters, journal entries, telegrams and the like.  I think this can be a very fun and unique device, since you get a glimpse into all the characters minds that you don’t always get with the more common narrative styles of first-person or third.  And these characters are amazingly well written, I thought, but we’ll get back to them in a minute.

How does one recapitulate the story of Dracula?  A story so old, and so commonplace, surely everyone knows what Dracula is about!  Do you know the story of Dracula?  I was surprised to find that I didn’t know as much as I thought I knew!  I mean, really!  I didn’t!  So, I shall attempt a brief, concise (if I can manage it), and thoroughly mystifying recap of my own.  (This should be entertaining.) (And maybe slightly impossible.) 

(There I go again.)  (I shall blame it on William Goldman.)  (That’s an inside Princess Bride joke.) (You should read it to find out what I mean.)

I imagine you realize that Dracula is a vampire.  I’ll throw that most obvious tidbit out there right now.  Dracula is a vampire!  Who seems to love the bloods of the young, gorgeous females!  For young, gorgeous, blood-thirsty female vampires abound in this novel!  And not Bella Swan beautiful either, these women are more… wildly exotic.  At least that is how I pictured them.  Like animals or something.  Does that make sense?

Anywoo.  So, this young man who is like a real estate agent?  but they don’t exactly call him a real estate agent? goes to Transylvania to sell the Count a place in England. Once there, all kinds of spooky things happen to him.  The Count is, by all appearances, kind and curious about the young man, who is called Jonathan Harker by the way, and asks many a question about the way things are over the pond.  Things get stranger when the Count will not let Harker out into the castle, but tells him to Stay In His Room.  So natural Harker sneaks out!  And meets three creepy women!  Who almost lure him to sleep and drink his blood!  Of course, Harker doesn’t know this because he’s somewhat adorably clueless.  

By this time I was hooked. 

Eventually the Count shows his fangs and goes all evil on Harker. (Did you see what I did there?!)  He doesn’t kill him of course; he just abandons him to the castle and leaves for England.   You will have to read it to find out what happens to Harker.

In FACT, I will leave you here.  That first section of the book was enough to hook ME, it should be enough to hook YOU.   Bram Stoker was a much better writer than I was fearing (no, I have no idea what I had that preconceived notion in my head) and the characters were a delight.  Especially Mina Murray.  Dude, she was kick ass!  I love these smart women characters in 19th century literature.  They make my bones all warm and fuzzy.   One could do a whole post on how she much she rules.  

Here are a few little quotelets that I jotted down. 

“It is the eve of St. George’s Day. Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway?”

*shivers* Isn’t that a deliciously scary thought?

Then a dog began to howl somewhere in a farmhouse far down the road, a long, agonized wailing, as if from fear. The sound was taken up by another dog, and then another and another, till, borne on the wind which now sighed softly through the Pass, a wild howling began, which seemed to come from all over the country, as far as the imagination could grasp it through the gloom of the night.

It’s like a doggy telegraph system or some canine form of morse code.  Here comes danger!

“We are in Transylvania, and Transylvania is not England. Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things.”

Despair has its own calms.

Yikes.

How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, no dreads, to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams.

Dude, don’t I know it.

“I have learned not to think little of any one’s belief, no matter how strange it may be. I have tried to keep an open mind, and it is not the ordinary things of life that could close it, but the strange things, the extraordinary things, the things that make one doubt if they be mad or sane.”

I think perhaps Dracula has earned a spot on my yearly RIP read list now, along with The Graveyard Book. 

18 thoughts on “Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

  1. I'm so glad to hear that you liked this book — I felt the same when I first read it a few years ago. I absolutely loved it!

    You should read The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova — fabulous!! I just co-hosted a readalong at On the Ledge Readalongs… We just finished it, but you should check out the fabulous pictures of the six week journey that we were on! Let me know what you think!

  2. *applause*

    I read this for the first time last year, and was also surprised by how much fun it was to read. And how different from all the vampire/Dracula myths that seem to be out there.

  3. One of my all-time favs so I'm extra lovin' your enthusiastic review! It's a shame so many folks have a preconceived idea of what Stoker's Dracula would be like that they avoid it.

  4. I read this quite a few years ago and really liked it. I remember being so surprised that there wasn't more blood and gore. There's something so much scarier about a quite tale of horror though!

  5. LOOOOVE this review! Now I just need to *finish* this book. I love the part I've read! I think I accidentally loaded two copies of it onto my Nook, plus I have the paper version, so I have no excuses.

  6. I am glad you liked it! I first read this when i was in middle school. I wonder how different the experience is to read it as an adult, after being exposed to so much other vampire stuff.

  7. Hooray Hooray Hooray 😀 😀 😀 And I have to say that I absolutely LOVE that picture that you took!!! Ok…so now I have two follow up books for you!! #1 is Renfield by Barbara Hambly…AMAZING!!! You'll fall in love with it…I read it for RIP a couple of years ago after reading Dracula for the first time…it's basically Dracula told from Renfield's point of view, but it goes beyond the story….and then of course there's The Historian which you may have read already. God I freaking love that book so much!!!

  8. Not only am I applauding, I'm standing up to do it! 😀 I'm so glad you loved this, Heather! It was only in the last couple years that I read it…and wow, did I love it!!! Have to admit I went into it extremely leery (probably because I'd read Frankenstein the year before and really did not like it–so I was making unfair assumptions and grouping all those old scary classics together :P). It was so wonderful to find myself proved wrong with Dracula!!!!

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