When Jonathan Harker visits Transylvania to help Count Dracula purchase a London house, he makes horrifying discoveries in his client’s castle. Soon afterwards, disturbing incidents unfold in England: an unmanned ship is wrecked; strange puncture marks appear on a young woman’s neck; and a lunatic asylum inmate raves about the imminent arrival of his ‘Master’.
In the ensuing battle of wits between the sinister Count and a determined group of adversaries, Bram Stoker created a masterpiece of the horror genre, probing into questions of identity, sanity and the dark corners of Victorian sexuality and desire.
Regarded as one of the most influential horror stories of all time and the inspiration of countless literary spin-offs, the tale of the young Englishman Jonathan Harker’s journey into the very heart of Count Dracula’s evil realm remains a compelling read to this day.
Bram Stoker must be rolling in his grave because I’m about to roast the actual crap out of one of literature’s most beloved classics. All I can say is this: what the actual heck did everyone else read??? It sure as hell wasn’t the book I did.
Basically Phantom is better and that’s the tea.
Now before the masses assemble with their pitch forks and torches let me just clarify that I actually love classics. I know they’re not for everyone – and that’s okay – but usually gothic horror is right up my alley. I mean, Phantom of the Opera is one of my favorite books. Ever. I love the complex characters. I love the language. And, I love dissecting the themes and motifs to find the deeper meaning.
I did not love Dracula.
Okay, maybe it can be said that my relationship with Dracula stems from the hype and my preconceived notions of what the plot actually was. Let me give you the context: When I was in high school I studied a play version of Dracula and adored it. So, when my bookish friend Clara created a Halloween themed read-along A Vampire of Norte Dame I jumped at the chance to read an unabridged version of the original text.
Spoiler alert: I’ve only now realized that the playwright took some serious liberties with the plot. Fun fact: apparently Dracula is not a gothic star-crossed-lovers romance between the mortal Mina and the Count of Darkness himself. Thanks Gary Oldman.
So yeah, I can see how that might have hindered my reading experience.
But, when one hears the word Dracula it does stir certain preconceptions. I mean, you picture gothic architecture and Transylvanian castles. You picture sexy vampire romance with plenty of eerie scenes and bloodletting. You expect a spine tingling nightmarish masterpiece of epic proportions.
All I’m saying I that I sure as heck didn’t sign up for Van Helsing trying to “save” Lucy and Mina. Suffice to say that Dracula himself is barely present and there is an all-round lack of castles and gore. I mean, for a staple of horror, Dracula just isn’t scary. Also, Van Helsing isn’t a Hugh Jackman-esque vampire hunter. Talk about a missed opportunity.
What I wanted was more of Jonathan Harker vs Dracula and the weird sisters and that delicious gothic atmosphere. I couldn’t give a damn about Lucy’s suitors or her deteriorating health.
Speaking of Lucy, that brief moment featuring the “Bloofer Lady” was pretty much the only point during the entire novel where I was even remotely invested and feeling the chills. Why couldn’t we have had a book devoted to that sub plot???
Besides the character of Dracula himself – who I’m not even going to get into – what this classic suffers from is an anticlimactic, tediously slow plot. And no, I don’t mean a slow burn. Dracula moves at a painstakingly slow crawl. I kept waiting for that moment of hook, when I’d finally fall into the story. The plot failed to deliver; it was dry and I was bored to tears. Reading this book basically took every fiber of my perseverance. [It also took two weeks of my life].
And don’t even get me started on that cop out of an ending! After all the blood, sweat and tears I didn’t even get a showdown between Dracula and the squad??? Honestly, the ending had the potential to save my experience – the entire book was building to a tense showdown only to have the final confrontation end in seven pages. Seven pages. Let that sink in. All I can say was that Dracula himself was freaking useless and I was so angry.
Anyway, I apologize if I’ve just hated all over your favorite book with this salty AF review but this was so not my cup of tea. The thing is, I desperately wanted Dracula to be my new favorite book. The frustration is raging. At the end of the day, I can admit that Dracula’s reputation and various adaptions have altered and shaped my perception. Maybe Bram Stoker isn’t to blame but Hollywood? Regardless, Dracula as a novel was sluggish, disappointing and dry. I mean, I love the idea but the execution? Not so much. Clearly.
Thank you for coming to my Ted Talk.