Saturday, December 19, 2015

Book Review: Dracula (Bram Stoker)

The father of all vampire tales sits in his castle, preying upon the helpless and plotting to extend his area of control. Dracula is a wonderfully cunning villain, able to strike fear into men when they haven't even seen him. When Jonathan Harkness arrives at his castle to help the vampire finalize the purchase of property in England, Jonathan experiences the horrors up close. When Dracula reaches England and is able to prey upon the people there, several brave people gather to put an end to him, combining their skill sets, authority, and their accumulated information about vampires and all the horrific deeds Dracula has already committed to stop him. 

Dracula was an excellently creepy book. The story is told through diary entries, correspondence, and newspaper clippings, showing through these reports the mission of the main cast of characters to destroy the vampire. The plot keeps the reader wondering what will happen, if the heroes will catch Dracula and stop him. Plot twists add additional obstacles and problems for the vampire hunters, and as it becomes a race against the clock, the atmosphere becomes very urgent, and the suspense grows and we're urging the main characters onward before it's too late.

There isn't really any one specific main character, but there are characters from whom we receive the most reports of the story. They all have their own voices as they record the happenings, and do not neglect to apply the accents and peculiar voices of the people they have had conversations with, like Dr. Van Helsing. So even through journal entries and correspondence we get an image of the characters, how they speak and act.

Van Helsing, speaking of, was an excellent character. He knew the most about vampires, and so he was the source of information for the others. However, he didn't give it all up right away. Because the idea of vampires seemed so ridiculous, Van Helsing withholds information until he thinks his knew friends are ready to accept it. So it takes a bit of time, and it can keep us in suspense as to what exactly he knows. Van Helsing also makes everyone – readers included – rather comfortable with him. He is quick to befriend, and in a way he adopts his little band of vampire hunters as his own children. He cares for each of them, and gives of himself wholeheartedly, asking for nothing in return except their trust, especially when things are unknown.

Dracula, the cause of this formation of what is probably the first vampire hunters, is exceptionally clever. When we and Jonathan first meet him, he is the most friendly and amiable host you would ever meet. Eager to please and be of any help to make business transactions smooth. But then we see his ferocity and bloodlust, and we realize that Count Dracula is no friend to us.

****

Violence/gore: As this is about vampires, there is drinking of blood. Dracula kidnaps children for himself and/or the three lady vampires. A woman in search of her child is devoured by wolves (but we see no details). Vampires are destroyed by the appropriate methods (not in detail, but might sound gruesome). A character is shot. Dracula murders a few people. Other acts of violence are not described in detail, like these, so they shouldn't be too unnerving.

Sexual content: Jonathan assumes a lady vampire is going to kiss him, and he feels eager for it, while she only goes for his throat to drink his blood.

Profanity: If any, I believe it was only referenced.

Other: Again, as this is about vampires, it is a bit dark. Things happen in the night that are mysterious and lend a flavor of twisted evil. Liquor is consumed by some characters.

What about you? Have you read Dracula? What are your thoughts? :D

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