Book Review

Dracula (1897) Review


While not being the first vampire story, nor the last, Bram Stoker’s Dracula may be the most endearing. The horror novel has achieved a certain status over the years, bestowed with that long overused title, “classic.” Is Dracula a “classic?” Does it hold up in the modern age? I can’t answer for everyone. I can only answer from one perspective. Mine.

Like many novels made into countless film versions, one must first separate the two. Then there’s the critical analysis of the academics to sort through and cast aside. When we read for enjoyment, we have no use for such senseless trappings, at least at the start of our journey. After we’ve finished the novel, then we can decide if we want to wade through the analysis and theme exploration which could ruin an enjoyable story we just discovered. The story is important, not all the extra academia. This is my first time truly experiencing the original story written by Bram Stoker. I’ve seen films and documentaries, but never read the novel. I never knew the basis for the films. The real story. The true story. After reading Dracula, I’m glad I did. I couldn’t put it down once I got into it.

I love the presentation. Stoker didn’t write Dracula in a typical fashion like any other novel. In a way, the style reminds me of Faulkner’s As I Lay Dying. They’re both similar in narration, but different. Dracula being much easier to read and follow the story. Normally as I read I can get into a book, but not experience the spine tingling terror. There was a single scene here where I had that experience. I won’t spoil it, so you’ll have to read for yourself to see if you have the same experience.

There’s an enjoyable experience in encountering a new “literary friend.” A new character who grabs your attention and fills your mind with wonder. I found one between these very pages. I wouldn’t say he’s a new favorite toping the charts, but there’s a spot for him on the list. No, it’s not the title character, or any of the others who make up the main cast. Sometimes a secondary character intrigues me more. Not all the time, but there have been a few in past reviews. Kurt Barlow in ‘Salem’s Lot, Boo Radley in To Kill a Mockingbird, and now Renfield in Dracula. Like the other two mentioned, Renfield raises so many questions. He’s far more interesting than the other characters. There’s a brief, vague explanation for his appearance if you can call it one. I’d like to know about his life, his backstory, and what led to his incarceration in an asylum.

Before reading Dracula, I read the other horror “classic,” Frankenstein. I hated Frankenstein, and couldn’t see why it wears the “classic” crown. With Dracula, the opposite is true. I need to clear some space on my bookshelf and get my own copy. I may want to read this now and again around Halloween. Dracula earns a spot on my bookshelf, and the title of “classic.”

Copyright © Drew Martin 2016


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