Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the book that sparked vampires as horror icons before they became sparkling. It was good to read the book to see how much Stoker established as the ‘rules’ for Dracula and other vampires in comparison to all the clichés that surround them today.
I thought the story format would have put me off where the whole story is told through a series of journals, letters and memorandums but I soon got accustomed to it and had no problem with it.
The amount of detail Stoker puts into appearances of people and buildings as well as their feelings is impressive. It is easy to picture Dracula’s castle because of popular culture but even so, the description really brings it to life. The same can be said for Dracula who throughout film and game history has had many different looks.
For a book that is almost 550 pages long, you might think that leaves a lot of story where Dracula is involved but his actual physical presence is quite minimal in the book, particularly after the first 100 pages when the action leaves Dracula’s castle.
Most of the book is a tale of strong human bonds as the characters investigate the strange going-ons at home rather than at Transylvania. The characters are likeable but sometimes you wonder how they all fit together.
A lack of Dracula does help to build the suspense though. If you are familiar with Dracula and his tropes, there are parts of the book where you know some strange occurrence is related to Dracula but the characters don’t know that but the reader knows Dracula is always there throughout the book.
Having said that, the start of the book is probably the best part set in Dracula’s castle with Dracula a constant presence. It would have been interesting to have the majority of the book set in Dracula’s castle or have at least one person in the castle at all times throughout the book to report on findings and occurrences.
One gripe I have is that I do feel the book is a bit overly long where some parts could easily be cut out or reduced without having any impact on the story. There’s also too many instances of the women praising the lovely brave male friends they have while the men are far too enamoured with protecting the pure innocent beautiful (inside and out) women.
It’s not so much a problem of equality or how women are represented as Mina tends to become quite a strong character but it is just the simple unwillingness for any character to hold each other in anything other than the highest esteem no matter what.
It is worth reading Dracula to learn the original story, the original rules before every story told since then added to or changed the folklore or the look of Dracula himself. A pre-conceived knowledge of the laws that surround Dracula help you to piece what goes on in the book in one go although not knowing would give you the greater satisfaction when the characters put the pieces together when most readers already have.