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I have somehow never seen “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” or any of the other movie incarnations of this book. In fact, I was surprised to read the back cover of this book and find out that the book is about Dracula moving to Enland to set up shop. So, I had no expectations going into it.
Overall, I enjoyed the book. It’s written in a journal/letter style, which I (mostly) liked and found interesting. I liked seeing what was going on with the main characters as we went along. The voices of the narrators kind of all blended together though. Mina was different, but Jonathan and Dr. Seward were pretty interchangeable for me. If there wasn’t a clue in the content, I very often had to flip back to see which one was supposed to be writing this section. And I thought Van Helsing’s “accent” was terrible! This intelligent physician/lawyer makes some horrible grammar and syntax mistakes that didn’t come across as real to me. Granted, I’m not an expert at that kind of thing, but there’s my opinon.
Speaking of characters–the characters in this book were all (with the obvious exception of the vampires) too noble and good for words. A typical, paraphrased conversation between characters (I think spoiler free):
“If I should show signs of becoming a vampire, give me your oath that you will do the honorable thing and destroy me in the appropriate way.”
“I would lay down my very life to prevent such a thing from happening, but if it should, I would gladly fulfill such a duty to you, in order that you might go to your eternal reward in Heaven.”
Is this for real? Okay, the book’s over a hundred years old, but still…
Now for my big pet peeve: the way Mina is treated like both this wilting flower and this oddity because she has a “brain like a man’s.” If that’s not a direct quote, it’s close. I tried to keep in mind that this book was written 20 years before women could even vote, but it was still driving me crazy! But then I really thought about it and decided that Stoker might actually have been a little feminist for the times. Mina might be a fragile flower, but at least she is intelligent and she gets to tag along with the men, and they even arm her at one point. I don’t know. But it did bother me.
I was shocked to find out that Van Helsing is an old man who has more in common with Agatha Christie’s Hercule Poirot than Hugh Jackman! So I’m reading along, pleasantly picturing Hugh Jackman every time Van Helsing’s name is mentioned, and then I come across a reference to how he’s an old man. What?!? Where’d Hugh go? Bring him back please!
I’ve made it sound like the book is terrible, but somehow it’s more fun to write about the things that don’t work than it is to write about the things that do. I really did enjoy it and I’m glad I finally read it. I’ve read quite a bit of vampire fiction, so I’m glad to have finally read the book that sort of started it all. It’s all gothic and melodramatic, but if you can live with that, you’ll enjoy the book.
Reviewed October 20, 2008