Wednesday 18 March 2015

Book Review: Dracula; Bram Stoker.

Three cheers for the first classic I've read in ages, because I loved it! To be even more specific, I don't think I've ever actually read a Gothic Horror novel written in the Victorian era before. I've always wanted to though, and have found myself totally desperate to get hold of a title such as this, 'Jekyll & Hyde', 'Frankenstein' or 'The Picture Of Dorian Grey'. These are all titles that I really feel I should have read by now and I'm so glad that I've made a good start on this genre with 'Dracula'. What a fantastic book!

SOURCE: Borrowed
TYPE: Paperback

TITLE: Dracula
AUTHOR: Bram Stoker
PUBLISHER: Wordsworth Editions
PAGES: 352
GENRE: Classics, Gothic, Horror

RATING: 4.5/5 Stars

When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula with the purchase of a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries about his client and his castle. Soon afterwards, a number of disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked at Whitby; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck; and the inmate of a lunatic asylum raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘Master’. In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count Dracula and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing deeply into questions of human identity and sanity, and illuminating dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.

What I Liked:
  • My favourite aspect of the book was definitely Bram Stoker's fantastic way with visual imagery and atmosphere. The first section of the book, Jonathan's journey to Castle Dracula, is a great example of this. Stoker manages to perfectly juxtapose the beautiful scenery found in Budapest and Transylvania with the ever growing sense of unease and oppressive atmosphere. While on the subject of Stoker's writing, the symbolism in this book is so good. I love symbolism and hidden meanings, I thrive on working out a deeper meaning behind  the words of a story, so this book was perfect for my needs.
  • Despite the fact that the characters and vampiric lore behind the story are very famous, I actually went into this story a little blind to the plot. I knew it involved the struggle against vampires (or certainly one in particular) but that was about it. I am glad to say that I was really impressed with the story-line and the way Stoker structured it. Multiple viewpoints added to the novel's intrigue and mystery and I had an infinite need to find out what would happen next.
What I Disliked:
  • I am heavily aware that this is due to the fashion of writing at the time period of it's publication, but at times certain plot events and explanations were very long-winded. There was an awful lot of "Oh no she's in danger...oh no wait, she's getting better it's fine- oh! She's ill again! Someone help her- oh good she's looking a lot better today." Characters had a very long way of going about things and telling their stories too and it could get a little frustrating considering the general sense of time running out, as well as a reader's insight into the danger a certain character was in while Professor Van Helsing explained the ins and outs of why he was doing what he was doing, and his theories behind it all, and how he'd like to thank them all for their patience and understanding. A teeny tiny part of me urged them to stop dawdling and kill the Vampire!
Overall Conclusion:
This book is a masterpiece of it's genre, and I'm glad I chose it as my first Victorian Gothic Horror to read. It  has given me great hope that I shall thoroughly enjoy future reads of this kind! The world-building, particularly in it's visual imagery and atmosphere, was on point and I loved the plot structure and multiple viewpoints. It really contributed to being a gripping story! For those that love fast paced action though, perhaps this is not the right choice. The fact that characters will take a long time to go about doing things, keep information from each other and inadvertently make a bad situation worse by doing so and give a ten minute presentation complete with Oscar Speech style thank yous and compliments every time they want to put forward an opinion can be a little aggravating.

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