Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Dracula by Bram Stoker~★★★★

Author: Bram Stoker
Title: Dracula
Release Date: First released in 1897; this edition released in 2001
Publisher: First published by Archibald Constable and Co., this edition published by Random House
Genre: Fiction

Book Cover: "More than a century after its first publication, Dracula remains the ultimate horror story, thrilling readers with its hair-raising portrait of a bloodthirsty vampire set loose on an English port town. Spawning countless film adaptations and literary spin-offs, Stoker's novel--a patchwork of letters, diary entries, and newspaper clippings--was the first to capture vampire mythology as we know it. We can still trace its abiding influence among the cinemas, bookstores, and television programs of today.
This Modern Library Paperback Classics edition includes a new Introduction by Peter Straub, which offers an insightful reading of Stoker's classic novel, and newly commissioned explanatory notes." 

Taryn's Review: Happy Halloween! This book was displayed by my library as one to read for the upcoming holiday and I took them up on the offer. It took me longer than expected to finish the book due to some personal issues, but I finally finished it!

I think we're all familiar with Dracula the Vampire thanks to movies. It wasn't until college when I realized that the modern Dracula had begun as a character in a book (I never really thought about it before that!). My class had been assigned the task to write a paper about a book that had "stood the test of time" and one of my classmates selected Dracula. From then on, I put it on my mental list of books to-be-read. Granted it took six years before I actually read it, but hey, it's a long to-be-read list! The basic opening of the book is that Jonathan Harker went to a castle in Transylvania to make a real estate transaction on a new English home for the Count Dracula. Jonathan noticed some odd happenings and barely escaped the castle with his life intact. Back at home, Jonathan's fiancee, Mina, was corresponding with her old friend Lucy. Lucy was proposed to by three men: Dr. Seward, Quincey Morris, and Arthur Holwood aka Lord Godalming. She accepted Arthur's proposal, yet no hard feelings were held by the men. They were all cordial to one another and each loved Lucy. After Lucy fell ill with a mysterious ailment, Dr. Seward called on his old physician friend, Professor Abraham Van Helsing, to come from Amsterdam to examine Lucy. Van Helsing realized the cause of Lucy's ailment: Dracula. The story unfolds from there as the group tried to understand and eliminate Dracula's effect on Lucy and prevent future victims from the torture Lucy experienced.

This book was definitely written for an 1897 audience. There are a lot of technologies mentioned in the book that we are not familiar with today and there are a lot of lines that don't make sense to the modern reader. My book came with endnotes so I could flip to the back of the book for an explanation about certain words or phrases. If I were to read this book again, I think I'd find a copy with better explanations about the context of the time period rather than just definitions. This book was also a difficult book to read in general; the vocabulary used is extensive and the way in which Stoker wrote is difficult to discern at times. Plan to take your time while reading this book. In my opinion, it is really a book that is better suited for more advanced readers.

That said, I did find the book to be eerie and at times I felt my heart beat quicken. How horrific it would be to encounter a force such as Dracula! Two of the main characters were women (Lucy and Mina) and they represented Victorian womanhood and the consequences for mankind if such womanhood should cease. There was a lot of good vs. evil, dark vs. light, and Devil vs. God in this book. I'd love to explore the themes more in-depth or re-read the book using a copy that had better notes about the book. Also, I think now that I have a better understanding of the plot, I would love to hear this book read aloud or listen to the audio-version of it. It used to be quite popular to read books out loud to others and I get the feeling this book would have been a favorite to hear! Overall, a great spooky read and a great history lesson into the origins of the modern Dracula.