Robyn's Reviews > Dracula

Dracula by Bram Stoker
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May 14, 11

bookshelves: reviewed, hard-going-in-places

This is a book to which fame has done a serious disservice. If I didn't already know about vampires, this book would have been pretty scary, and very suspenseful. But since the book relies on the "Oh, no! This is so strange! What on earth is going on?" angle for most of it's length, the suspense is non-existent to a modern audience, who knows full well what is going on. Also, the story has been told and retold so many times that even a casual vampire fan probably knows 90% of what is going to happen here.

I hate this, when this happens. Our culture is so fond of things like homage and pastiche that it can really ruin things for people who haven't experienced them yet. For instance: Citizen Kane. Do you know how many homages to Citizen Kane I'd seen before I actually saw the movie? Like, a dozen. I knew before I got home from the video rental place the answer to the mystery the movie was trying to solve. I knew quite a bit about Kane's character, and could hum along with the musical number "The Charlie Kane Song", having seen that episode of The Simpsons more times than I can count. Dracula was a lot like my experience with Citizen Kane.

Admittedly there are also some parts of the book I just flat out didn't care for. Overt religiosity is one thing, but everything was about god with these people. I don't think you can find an entire page without that word on it somewhere. Occasionally the characters are just too Victorian, worried about propriety and such when there's a bloodthirsty monster on the loose, and it's frustrating.

Having said that, If you manage to just forget what vampires are, and roll with the book; accepting its weird little quirks from the time period, it's really very well done. The storytelling was good, the pace was surprisingly brisk for a novel of that time, and the descriptive passages were properly chilling.

Also, anyone interested from a historical point of view will be able to see some of the basis of the myth. Comparing it to some of the more modern vampire stories is really interesting.

I want to stress, this is not a bad book at all; it's just that it's the basis of many of the vampire cliches that have been overused. If you love vampires or Victorian fiction, then by all means, read it. Just don't expect to find anything new.
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