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Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula

3.70  ·  Rating details ·  193 ratings  ·  61 reviews
Bram Stoker, despite having a name nearly as famous as his legendary Count Dracula, has remained a puzzling enigma. Now, in a psychological and cultural portrait, David J. Skal exhumes the inner world and strange genius of the writer who conjured an undying cultural icon. Stoker was inexplicably paralyzed as a boy, and his story unfolds against a backdrop of Victorian ...more
Hardcover, 672 pages
Published October 4th 2016 by Liveright (first published October 26th 2015)
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Average rating 3.70  · 
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 ·  193 ratings  ·  61 reviews

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Jeffrey Keeten
Dec 04, 2016 rated it really liked it
”I long to go through the crowded streets of your mighty London, to be in the midst of the whirl and rush of humanity, to share its life, its change, its death, and all that makes it what it is.”
---Count Dracula

 photo Bram-Stoker-Author_zpsmuoajfmt.jpg

I’ve never known much about Bram Stoker. He always seems to be in the shadow cast by his most famous book, merging with the castle wall of Dracula’s lair or blending with the wallpaper of John Seward’s house. A majority of people, even those who have never read a book or watched a movie
Oct 23, 2016 rated it it was ok
There is a Bram Stoker shaped hole at the centre of this book. For a biography that claims to explore the inner world of the man himself, I learned an awful lot about almost everything else in his life except him. Partly, no doubt, that is because Stoker was a very private man and his descendants have protected that privacy; partly because Dracula may now be regarded as a genuine classic and a staple of popular culture but in his day it was very much a sleeper hit; partly because so much of his ...more
Dec 21, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I was glad to receive this audiobook from the publisher on CD, because using the CD player in my car makes what is for me a long commute that much easier. This book in particular wasn't much of a boon, however; I pass on my audiobooks to my boss, whose commute is twice mine. This one went with the warning that, given the sometimes plodding writing and the near-monotone of the narrator, it might be a driving hazard. I don't think the narrator will literally prove to be a soporific – but then ...more
carl  theaker
Jun 26, 2019 rated it liked it
If you held this book up to a mirror, there would be no reflection.

Little is known about Bram Stoker’s upbringing, or his personal life as an adult, but this does not stop Author David Skal from holding up a coat hanger, or perhaps I should say crucifix, and filling out a figure, draping clothes and capes over it, bringing Stoker’s life to us….entirely on speculation! Various events are described, books, Stoker, the creator of ‘Dracula’, might have read, people who may have influenced Bram’s
Mlle Ghoul
Mar 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
“Dracula never ends. Not in my life, or in yours.” writes David Skal in the opening pages of Something in the Blood. I can attest to that. I have been obsessed with the story of Dracula ever since I stole the book from my mother’s dusty bookshelf when I was but ten years old. It is a story that I hold sacred and there is nothing that will ever compare; it is timeless and as much a part of me as my own blood.
I cannot help but to think of this vampiric tale, and by association, the man who wrote
Apr 26, 2017 rated it liked it
I really liked all the ramblings of the book, whether they are about sex and gender, Victorian morality, psychiatry, and the nature of art.

The book gets three stars because some of these ramblings went way too far and had hardly anything to do with the literary motifs of Dracula. They were entertaining and engaging, but I always wondered if they were pertinent to the subject matter.

Patrick Book
Mar 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
I knew nothing about Bram Stoker's biography, but the scope of his career, his interactions with fellow literary luminaries, and his possible secret life was absolutely shocking! What a neat story.
Soukyan Blackwood
Dec 31, 2019 rated it liked it
all reviews in one place:
night mode reading
skaitom nakties rezimu

About the Book: David J. Skal attempts to tell us about Bram Stoker’s life, his bed-ridden childhood and an illness of seven years that mysteriously went away. Of his a tad odd family, his work in literature and theater. How vampire Count Dracula came to be, and what he became, evolving through the years, outliving the author himself.

My Opinion: This was supposed to be a biography of Bram Stoker with great interest in
Scott Delgado
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was ok
It is documented that Bram Stoker was a very private man and there isn't much information on him. This is proven true by this long book which is very short on Stoker. I would say about 45% of this book is about Bram Stoker. Maybe 40% of this book is about OSCAR WILDE. The other 15% consist of information on Henry Irving, Hall Caine, and the various Dracula films made after the death of the supposed subject of this book.

The book is well-written. It's just that for a large book with a picture of
This book is rambling and speculative, and not really a proper biography, but I think Skal has to some extent earned the privilege of writing and publishing whatever he wants to about Dracula, at this point in his career. And if he wants to do is speculate about Stoker's potential romance with Hall Caine (and the hypothetical love letters which Florence Stoker could have burned, if they had existed - ooh, do tell us more about your historical RPF story! I would read that), then so be it.

A lot of
Prima Seadiva
Audiobook reader pretty good.
This seemed more like a journal of the times with biographic information about Stoker interwoven than a biography. The author wandered all over the time period of his life and years after his death, spending lots of time on Stoker's heroes and associates such as Henry Irving, Oscar Wilde and Walt Whitman. It was interesting but at times I wondered who's biography it was. One person mentioned I would have liked more detail about was actress Ellen Terry.

He went into
Jaime F.
Jan 27, 2019 rated it it was ok
Very disappointed with this book. I got to know more about his parents and acquaintances than Bram Stoker himself. Hard to follow his biography since the author goes all over the place with some not so reputable facts and some assumptions. Was looking forward to read about Bram Stoker life and how he got to create 'Dracula', but very little chapters deals with this topic.

Might need to look other books about him. Very disappointed!
Nov 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
Skal’s book, Something in the Blood, is not really a book about Bram Stoker at all. It is, in fact, a book about vampires, and, beneath that, a book about Oscar Wilde.

It does not surprise me that Skal would include Oscar Wilde in a Bram Stoker biography. Both Stoker and Wilde were born in Dublin around the same time, had attended Trinity College, and courted the same woman, Florence Balcombe (Stoker would be the one to marry her). These are interesting similarities and, in a book about Stoker,
Explore not only Bram Stoker’s life, but the Victorian era, contemporary authors, famous theater celebrities, and the various works of Stoker in this book.

I grew up watching all sorts of Dracula and vampire stories and as an adult I finally read Dracula by Bram Stoker. It remains one of my favorite horror stories, being full of suspense and the darker, often repressed, side of human nature. When I saw that a biography on Stoker was available, I jumped on it.

This book was so much more than I
Joseph Hirsch
Nov 27, 2016 rated it liked it

Bram Stoker devoted most of his life to the career of the stage-actor Henry Irving, as previous Stoker biographies have made clear (especially Barbara Belford's "Bram Stoker and the Man who was Dracula"). This, along with Stoker's circumspect nature, presents a conundrum for biographers. That said, David Skal makes his task harder for himself in "Something in the Blood" by willfully getting lost not only in the details of the lives of people associated with Stoker, but by going off on tangents
Dec 31, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"You know the name Dracula. The vampire king has been haunting our consciousness, thanks to the movies, since the German film "Nosferatu" invaded theaters in 1922."

Something in the Blood: The Untold Story of Bram Stoker, the Man Who Wrote Dracula is wonderful biography about the man who created one of the most memorable characters in fiction "(who birthed an undying cultural icon)". But Bram Stoker was much more than just the author of Dracula as this fine book reveals. He was born in Dublin,
Michael Samerdyke
Jul 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Romanians refer to Bram Stoker as "the Irishman," and "Something in the Blood" by David J. Skal shows there is a lot of truth in that.

I had read Farson's biography of Stoker decades ago, and "Who Was Dracula?" a couple of years ago. Skal's majestic tome added much to what I knew.

Stoker was very proud of being Irish. He supported Home Rule although he remained a Protestant all his life. (He died in 1912 before things got violent, so who knows how his opinions might have changed.) Stoker was very
Linda Doyle
Aug 15, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oscar Wilde, Hall Caine, Ellen Terry, Henry Irving, and Horace Liveright are just a few of the intriguing personalities that the reader comes to know in what is supposed to be a biography of Bram Stoker, author of the novel Dracula. I read a good review of this so decided to read it because I'm a big fan of Stoker's novel. Though I liked this book very much, I was disappointed that it really doesn't shed much light on Stoker as a person. Apparently, he was a private man, so perhaps this is the ...more
Something In The Blood is the first biography I took a chance to read. Being a huge fan of Dracula, I already knew a little bit about Bram Stoker's life but was eager to learn more. The fact that it is written by one of my favourite film historians, David J. Skal, is what made me decide to give this book a chance.
What I thought was going to be a boring textbook read became one of my favourite books of the year. I listened to the audiobook and I couldn't stop listening to it; I became
Jessi Collier Wakefield
Count Dracula was not in the novel Dracula that much. He was always anticipated and felt throughout, but he had very little "screen time"in comparison to the bulk of the book.
That is exactly what this "biography"is like. Bram Stoker is maybe in 30% of the entire book, despite its almost 600 pages of text. There was just as much written about Oscar Wilde in this book as the titular person.
There is also a great deal of speculation of what MIGHT have happened, or what Bram MIGHT have done, or
Blaine Nicholson
Nov 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have read through some other reviews of this book, and while I do agree that yes, this book did ramble on quite a bit about things not directly related to Stoker, I honestly don't think it ever went too far off the mark. Yes, the book discussed Oscar Wilde and Henry Irving in detail, but both men were a major part of Bram Stoker's life. Also, in my opinion, Skal didn't make unsupported assumptions about anything (syphilis, Stoker being gay, etc.). He clearly stated when something was just a ...more
Kyle Burley
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
A rather curious literary biography. Skal runs into the same problem of all biographers of Bram Stoker. The subject was an intensely private, and, it must be said, somewhat staid and dull individual. There are really only two interesting things about him, his absolutely slavish devotion to his employer, the actor Henry Irving, and the fact that he wrote a famous book about a vampire.
One of the ways, Skal overcomes this is to spend quite a bit of the book, discussing Stoker's contemporary, and
Antonia Malvino
Dec 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is a long and very thorough consideration of Stoker's career. It may not be to every reader's tastes, especially if the desire is for a quick, always on topic discussion. This book could seem to wander away from the main subject, but in accepting that stylistic decision by the author, I found myself delighted by the additional deep study he shared. Not only does he cover Stoker, his family, and his wife, but also significant contemporaries of Stoker's, especially Oscar Wilde and the ...more
Jul 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
For readers who enjoy imbibing the atmosphere around a novel as well as the biography of the author, Something in the Blood offers a panoply of conjecture, culture, and choice stories from Stoker's and his family's lives. I enjoyed that Wilde was covered almost as thoroughly as Stoker in this novel. Most of all, I enjoyed how theatre is inextricably entwined in any imagining of Stoker's creative genius. All the insights on Victorian stagecraft, including some lurid murders adjacent to the stage, ...more
Gene Ripka
Aug 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
the book was a comprehensive study of vampirology, and did offer as complete a biography as we are likely to find of Bram Stoker. At times, however, he seemed almost incidental to a much larger story encompassing histories of Ireland and Britain, Victorian era, and theater. Some reviews I saw seemed dismissive of the extended sidetracks Skal takes in his tale, and I would allow that there is more conjecture than solid fact in his assertions about Stoker and his comtemparies' lives and ...more
Dec 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
An informative and engaging biography of Bram Stoker. I learned a lot about his life and his writings that I didn't know. I also liked that the book didn't stop with Stoker's death, but followed Florence Stoker through the remainder of her life and showed the evolution of Dracula as a popular stage and movie character. Skal does devote quite a bit of speculation toward Bram Stoker's sexuality and he meanders into detailed accounts of some people who seem only peripherally attached to Stoker. ...more
Randa Mcnair
Sep 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Not sure what I was expecting from this book, but needless to say, I got much more than that.I have to admit that I knew next to nothing about Oscar Wilde or Walt Whitman & now I know more than I could ever have wanted to know. These authors were certainly interesting, if not troubled people. Part of me wants to read some of their work, yet part of me is quite reluctant to. While this was an interesting listen while I've been waiting on other titles to be available, it's one book I could ...more
Nov 21, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2016
Hollywood horror historian David J. Skal gives it his all in this exhaustive but exhilarating look at the life and unlife of Bram Stoker. I learned some great new things, like Stoker's familial connection to romantic opponent Oscar Wilde, Stoker's removal by just two degrees from a very convincing Jack the Ripper suspect, Dracula's strange parallels with an anti-alcoholism novella entitled Drink and, yes, of course Rhode Island's very own H.P. Lovecraft's say on the true authorship of Dracula. ...more
Carrie Laben
Jul 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
As other readers have noted, this massive biography reaches a bit too far into speculation at times to be regarded as truly authoritative. Despite that, it's a sprawling, juicy, gossipy, wide-ranging, sympathetic, and just plain fun account not only of Bram Stoker's life but of the psychological and cultural context in which 'Dracula' became synonymous with 'vampire' and a cornerstone of horror entertainment.
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David J. Skal became fascinated with monsters at the height of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, when indestructible monsters like Dracula, Frankenstein and the Wolf Man provided a "nuclear security blanket" for a whole generation of youngsters.

Active as an editor and reporter on his high school newspaper, he was granted a journalism scholarship to Ohio University, Athens, where he earned a