Dracula Bram Stoker
Price: Paperback prices start at £4.10. Kindle edition is free.
Plot Summary: A classic gothic novel. Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to carry out a legal work on a property sale. Jonathan stays in the house of Count Dracula and becomes his prisoner. Jonathan manages to escape and travels back home to his fiancé Mina in England. Meanwhile Mina is staying with her friend Lucy in Whitby when a ship runs aground. Dracula is onboard this ship and has caused it to become wrecked. Lucy is bitten by Dracula and begins to slowly die and transform into a Vampire herself on her return to London. One of Lucy’s former suitors a doctor John Seward contacts his friend Abraham Van Helsing to care for Lucy. Van Helsing tries to save Lucy’s life but fails. Lucy dies and begins to prey on young children in London. Van Helsing teams up with Seward a young man named Quincey Morris and Lord Godalming (Lucy’s fiancé) to kill Lucy. At the same time Jonathan returns to London and marries Mina. Jonathan reveals his plight to Mina and the two join the quest to hunt down Dracula. Dracula learns of the groups plot against him and attacks Mina to control her and prevent his downfall. Dracula flees London to return to Transylvania and the group use Mina’s connection to Dracula to locate him. Dracula is killed by Van Helsing and Quincey Morris. Mina is freed from her curse. Jonathan and Mina return to England and name their son after Quincey who died in the struggle with Dracula.
Review: The narrative of the book is divided into several sections each narrated by a different character and in differing forms such as letters, recordings and diary extracts which makes the novel more varied and interesting. The most compelling narrative is that of Jonathan’s which begins the story. The use of diary extracts to tell the story results in a compelling narrative because it the reader gains a valuable insight into Jonathan’s emotions and adds another element of unease to the atmosphere. Stoker’s clever use of imagery heightens the tense atmosphere of the novel and builds up a convincing air of suspense regarding Dracula despite most contemporary readers already being aware that he is a vampire before picking up the novel. Jonathan’s slow realisation that he is a prisoner is also clever and the reader feels his impending doom. However, when Dracula flees Transylvania to arrive in England the plot begins to weaken. The account of the ship’s wrecking through the use of the log is clever and again is written with a sense of impending doom. Yet, as events move to London things begin to become a little ridiculous even for a novel about a Vampire. Stoker’s novel in its initially chapters allows the reader to suspend disbelief and the notion of an individual being held hostage is believable. However, in London the plot moves at such a fast pace the events become a wild goose chase for Dracula instead of the carefully constructed atmosphere of tension which has previously been employed by Stoker. The final chapters of the novel almost seem rushed in comparison to the slow build up to the events at the beginning of the novel. The brilliant description gives way to greater action which for some readers may be more enjoyable but I personally preferred the more descriptive chapters of the novel. However, having said this the narrative remains well written throughout and unlike other novels in the gothic genre of the same period such as ‘Frankenstein or the Modern Prometheus’ is surprisingly accessible. Likewise Stoker’s characters are devloped well and come alive beyond the pages of the novel thanks to the use of epistles. Additionally, despite my dislike of the rushed events of the concluding chapters of the narrative it cannot be denied that Stoker has still constructed a masterful plot. The novel ties up all the string’s of its plot and despite the complicated turn of events manages to convey them clearly to the reader. Therefore, whilst not perfect, Stoker’s Dracula is still a pretty good read. As one of the most famous gothic novels to date I recommend that you try it and decide whether you agree with my assessment. For readers who prefer fast paced action you will definitely disagree. I know my Mum does, this is her favourite book!
Opinion: A fairly good read. It may spook you a little but don’t expect nightmares!