A Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

(This is the copy I own. SO UGLY!) 
It is really wonderful how much resilience there is in human nature. Let any obstructing cause, no matter what, be removed in any way - even by death - and we fly back to first principles of hope and enjoyment. 
I finally finished the beast that is Dracula. While I didn't complete it by the end of RIP VII, I did manage to finish, and that's really saying something here. I know that most readers have already tackled Stoker's master work, so I was pretty late in jumping on the bandwagon. I also know that most of you guys said you liked it. A lot. I'm a little jealous. And also want some explanations. Because I just didn't get it.

The story is told through the perspectives of four characters in the form of letters and journal entries. J actually stopped me at one point (he attempted but FAILED to finish!) to ask if people seriously took their journals to heart like these folks did. Obviously, we were having a little laugh (because some of these entries just happened to go on for pages and pages and pages), but they had to be this long to tell the story (or did they?!?!). Anyway. The diary entries and phonograph recordings were long-winded and explain the story of, you guessed it, Count Dracula.

Let me also share that I have never seen a movie based on Dracula aside from Interview with the Vampire. I also haven't read any vampire stories (like Twilight) or watched any vampire related shows (I know there are quite the number at present). So. My knowledge of vampires was pretty much pathetic going in. To give you a sense, I only had a vague understanding of what they couldn't be around, you know: light, garlic and religious relics, and thought that Stoker would elucidate. Not so much the case. I still don't know too much about vampires, except that they are considered un-dead, which J explained to me a bit more in depth because I guess these creatures were also apart of his D&D games when he was younger. That's about it though.

So the daring four (actually there are six) face Dracula and then follow him here, there and everywhere. Seriously. If you haven't read it, I can't say much more, because although it's pretty much always DUH moments when a new development presents itself, saying too much would spoil the fun. So I'll leave it at that.


Let's talk about the fact that there was so much superfluous content to wade through.

Let's also talk about the fact that everything was obvious. So in your face obvious that I questioned the competence of the characters.

Women were also delicate flowers that needed protecting even though Mina Harker proved to be the smartest character of all. And don't give me that it's Victorian lit and it can't be done. *Brushes shoulders* and cites Wilkie "the bad ass" Collins. Yeah. (This fact didn't really bother me because I get the time period, but it did get me when male characters went ON AND ON AND ON about how women basically couldn't handle the situation YET completely controlled the situation.)

Van Helsing. What was up with that guy? And how did he know so much about the undead? And how did Jonathan Harker know him so well? Perhaps Stoker addresses this last question but I can't remember.

What I did enjoy:

Stoker created a very spooky atmosphere. The first 25 pages were the most thrilling of the entire work. Dracula's castle was creeptastic and wonderful. Jonathan visiting the basement took some real guts.

I enjoyed the fantasy element with the creation of Dracula and his ability to transform into objects and animals in order to do his bidding.

Otherwise, it just wasn't the book for me. I'm glad I read it and can add it to the list of books read for the Classics Club challenge I signed up for back in August.

Note: Today marks Bram Stoker's 165th birthday. Check out today's Google doodle! 


  1. Too bad you didn't enjoy this more. I haven't read it myself, nor have I seen the movie based on it, but I have heard good things. I know this is one of my mom's favorite books as well. Also I just checked out the Google doodle - love it!

    1. The google doodle is so cute. I won't dissuade other bloggers from reading it, but just didn't think it was the right book for me. I generally don't have a hard time with length, but this title just seemed tedious and not nearly as scary as I was anticipating. I would have preferred a little more action and less reflection.

  2. I keep really detailed journals - not as detailed as that, obviously, but pretty detailed. It started for fun, and now it's like a compulsion!

    It's a shame you didn't enjoy Dracula more. I think I love it so much because I read it when I was young and loved the atmosphere of it and the adventure elements. Now I have positive associations for it, which helps.

    1. Sam,
      Yes, I really wish I had enjoyed it more. It may have been that I wasn't quite in the mood for the length. I honestly can't say, though. Some books just don't hit like others and I think that was the case here. I can say that I really enjoyed the first half, but grew a little bored following.

  3. That's a bummer you didn't enjoy Dracula. I really love the book - I read it last year for RIP. I loved all the journal entries and the whole tone of the novel. It just swept me away and I enjoyed that. I found some parts hilarious and other parts creepy - it was the perfect RIP read for me. Sorry, it didn't work for you. Oh well, you are on to your next read, which I'm sure will be great - I've heard so many wonderful things about G&I ;)

    1. Nadia,
      I seem to be one of the only bloggers that just didn't love this one. I guess some really stick with you and others don't. I'm still glad that I did read it and can discuss it moving forward.
      And Gillespie and I is so wonderfully good. You MUST MUST MUST read it. And then we can discuss!

  4. I'll vouch for the journal entry stuff. Have you ever read any collection of Victorian era journals? they are actually that long and that serious. Often longer and more serious. Sorry you didn't like it. Dracula happens to be one of my all-time favorites. Renfield is one of my all-time favorite characters in literature as well.

    1. Yeah, I guess I should've known that considering the amount of historical programs I watch and the reading of the letters and such. Everyone loved it so and I'm just wondering, now, what it was that didn't get me. Perhaps I just expected too much. I enjoyed the first half but couldn't get into the second.

  5. SO, I feel like Dracula was one of the first books to use journal entries in that way, and so while it's not *that* amazing, that's mainly because it's the first of something and that never usually is that great (does this make any sense, I'm very tired!) ALSO I feel like Stoker *knows* what he's doing with Mina, and that she's in charge even though the male characters don't really accept it. But WE know.

    Anyway. Obviously I really like this, because of all the defending. But then I'm a big vampire fan, so I like seeing the whole thing at different points of the canon. Cause I'm a nerd ;)

    1. Laura,
      WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME?! I'm like the only person in the universe that didn't like this one. I wanted more action and I wanted to know more about vampires. It was all so vague. Perhaps I should read some of the earlier folklore to get a better idea. I may read it again in the future in an attempt to embrace all that is Stoker, but, for now, will have to accept defeat.

      And I think you're right about Mina. He just didn't come across as great as the wonderful WILKIE. Haha. :)

  6. Hi Beth - I feel like I should say something supportive and soothing but I have to be honest - I LOVE Dracula. I'll admit, the diary entries are incredible (in the French sense) and yes, I have no actual experience of reading extant Victorian diaries, so who am I to judge, but I always accept that level of detail in a narrative/plot device because they are the construct of the writer rather than a genuine representation of the character - it's just a basic 'suspension of disbelief' process I suppose. Having said that, I prefer them to Emily Bronte's idiotic Nelly Dean's narrative in Wuthering Heights. The other thing is, only the other day I went to the pub with a friend of mine who is about 20 yrs younger than me and we were discussing how ghost stories need to be read aloud rather than read - that's what they were intended to be, an oral tradition, so possibly you should try an audiobook of Dracula and see if it helps. I think that Stoker doesn't give much elucidation about Vampire mythology because he himself is basing the story on myth and rumour, fittingly suited to the enigmatic nature of the plot. The other thing you could do is try reading 'The Historian' by Elizabeth Kostova which is a contemporary approach to the Dracula myth.

    And to be honest, there's no rule that says you have to like something just because it's considered to be a great work of literature - I can't stand Wuthering Heights even though I've read it 3 times, and it took me about 3 attempts to get to the end of Gulliver's Travels. Hope this helps, Judy.

  7. I've only ever heard raves about this book, so yours is an interesting perspective. I wasn't really a fan of Frankenstein and for whatever reason I lump Frankenstein and Dracula into the same category, so I've been avoiding it ever since.

    Wanted to let you know I sent you an email. My emails often go to spam because of the numerous links I include to the books I'm working on. :/


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