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Dracula by Bram Stoker
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really liked it
bookshelves: classic, british, adapted, fantasy

“I vant to suck your blood!” -- Every little kid Dracula on Halloween


When you read the actual Dracula, Bram Stoker’s 1897 gothic horror novel, Dracula is just as cunning and evil as you’d expect. Sporting a very fashionable mustache and large red eyes, he is always hunting and haunting the main character’s lives.

But Dracula lives in the background mostly. Save the beginning in which Jonathan Harker interacts with him directly and we get a memorable impression of the famous vampire literally crawling down the walls of his castle to get a baby for his undead concubines to feast on, we don’t really see much of him. All we have are brief, often horrifying, impressions of the monster.

It’s actually a very slow novel compared to today’s standards, a gradual burn like a good Kubrick film. The suspense and terror are minor. Instead the novel focuses on a lingering sense of mystery and unease until things suddenly and graphically ramp up. That image of Mina Harker being forced to suck Dracula’s blood is one of the great scenes of the literary horror genre.

It’s not for everyone though. In order to get to those scenes of gothic fright, you have to sit through flowery monologues and overly detailed accounts of small interactions. The Victorians did like to unnecessarily elaborate afterall.

But there is something (beside the brief flashes of horror) that modern audience would appreciate, or at least I did. Mina Harker is a much stronger character than I would’ve expected a 19th century gentleman to write. While the men still treat her as a helpless something to be protected, she proves herself time and time again how invaluable she is. She notices important details that no one else does, sometimes drawing conclusions faster than the men. In that way, she consistently forces the men to pay attention to her and include her in their plot to hunt down Dracula. When you compare her to Lucy Westenra -- Dracula’s first victim and the literal embodiment of the innocent flower archetype -- Mina’s strength and depth is all the more striking.

There is no direct mention of Mina being infatuation with Dracula, though, at least from what I saw. The bulk of the luring (some would say seducing) of Mina happens off screen, and on screen, there is no hint of Mina being in love with Dracula (or vice versa). She is connected to him because she drank his blood, but I didn’t read love into that detail, though obviously some people have hence the popular storyline.

On that note, I wonder what Bram Stoker would think of what has become of his creations. At the very least, I think he would be happy that his work has captured the imaginations of 100+ years of readers and inspired countless adaptations and spin offs. Yes, there is a reason that Dracula has lasted so long. Something about the characters and their drive to defeat such a terrible horror resonates. Think about that when a little kid yells at you about sucking your blood.
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Reading Progress

October 9, 2018 – Started Reading
October 9, 2018 – Shelved
October 9, 2018 – Shelved as: classic
October 9, 2018 – Shelved as: british
October 9, 2018 – Shelved as: adapted
October 9, 2018 – Shelved as: fantasy
November 2, 2018 – Finished Reading

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