Have you ever heard of vampires?! Most probably yes, being given the fact that you can hardly find a single person on Earth who has not! From Murnau’s Nosferatu to Meyer’s Twilight, vampires have become a very known theme for movies and books.
However, bram stoker started it all!
As far as I am concerned, Bram Stoker’s Dracula was the book (or one of them) that made vampires so popular and present in our culture.
Who would guess that, years after the publication of this book, teenagers would fall in love with this type of creatures, waiting for a kiss to be vampirised by them after reading and/or watching series like Twilight?
However, it all stems from Bram Stoker’s famous novel.
Although teenagers often prefer reading more popular and young adult books, like the series mentioned above, I am positive that Dracula is still a great book that should be read by those interested in bloody, gloomy stuff.
I personally felt like I must read it because it generated so many myths and stories in our culture, greatly influencing the movies, cartoons, comics and books industry. Not that I am a fan of horror books or movies (I like to watch them, but only occasionally), but this one is a very influential classic and a must-read for the lovers of the horror genre.
Another reason why I read this book is that I am Romanian (no, I do not see witches on the street!) and Bram Stoker’s novel builds on the legends of Transylvania, a region located in Romania (even the Count’s castle is there).
As pretty much everyone already knows, Dracula is about a vampire who tries to vampirise as many innocent people as he can (especially women, for example, Lucy and Mina, the wives of Arthur and Jonathan). He wants to be eternally young and powerful and for this, he needs the blood of young people.
Besides the many themes and motives identified and interpreted by literary critics (you can find an amazing and informative study guide right here), what I loved about this novel is that it is a well-told story. Suspenseful and sometimes scary (I didn’t really find it dreadful, just a little bit scary here and there, but maybe it is just me who does not really get scared easily by books), it made me turn the pages, hungry to know what is happening next.
Something else that I liked a lot was the portrayal of friendship in this book.
All the characters, from the poor husband of the vampirised wife (will she be able to come back from the Undead world?!) to the renowned and pretty smart doctor Helsing are working as a team in order to stop Dracula’s evil plan of conquering the world. They are comforting and encouraging each other, which, however, is not enough to win the battle against one of the most powerful, oldest and wicked creatures in the Victorian era.
I also found some ideas about modernity quite interesting! Most of the time being expressed through doctor Van Helsing’s replies, by far the smartest character in this book, these ideas refer to the fact that modernity has lost faith.
Modern people eliminate the possibility of the existence of things that can not be explained. If you can not explain something, it does not exist, they say. This is an interesting idea; although it may sound like a cliché, it must have been more original for the nineteenth century. This theory is related to the action of the book in a very fascinating way, so it does not make you bored or feel like the characters are preaching. Definitely not! For example, this thing about modernity and its incapability to believe unseen things is related to the action because it is the reason why it is so hard for the characters to believe that Dracula actually exists.
In regards to the atmosphere that the novel is creating around this mesmerising story, I cannot praise it enough! The first part of the book, especially, is really fantastic in terms of atmosphere. Everything is so mysterious.
You know what is happening through various characters’ journals, such as Jonathan Harker’s diary. Consequently, you do not have a complete view of the action at first. You do not know everything, because there is no omniscient narrator, only Jonathan Harker trapped in Dracula’s spooky home. That is why I felt like everything was so mysterious and confusing at first – I did not even know what to believe anymore.
Is Dracula a vampire or is the character a madman who is hearing voices and needs to go urgently into a sanatorium?
Thinking of things that I did NOT like, I can hardly find any. However, here is one: sometimes I felt like the author is dragging out the plot.
After reading the first hundreds of pages, I pretty much knew what all this vampire thing was, so at times I did not see the point in continuing the story. This was only temporary though, because it did not take long to regain my interest in the novel. Also, at times, Van Helsing’s intelligent speeches seemed to be just too long, but that is just an impression of mine.
All in all, I really liked the book. I recommend it to anyone who wants to know where all the vampire movies and culture come from. It is a captivating and maybe even scary story which might give you a nice experience!
Do you like horror books and/or movies? Take a look at some articles about them right here!
Photo: Nosferatu (movie), Wikipedia