Dracula by Bram Stoker
Review by Nina Claudia Soukhanovskii
“If ever a look meant death— if looks could kill— we saw it at that moment.” –Bram Stoker, Chapter 16 of Dracula
Introduction of the Genre
This is a book that is considered classical literature. Now. Do NOT get all whiney and automatically reject this book, because let me tell you right away: not all classic books are boring! Personally, I enjoy classical literature and read a lot of books that others would never even try, but that is just what I was exposed to as a little kid and what I have loved for most of my life. This was book was something entirely different. It was a combination of classical literature and horror, which is why I think many teens will enjoy this book. And don’t worry! It’s not super creepy. It’s a mix of about 40% horror and 60% mystery, for those who cannot sleep at night.
Introduction of the Style
In addition to being a more modern-taste classical book, this book is also written a style that is a bit different than what you are used to. In other words, there is no main narrator of this book. It is a collection of diary entries from various characters, as well as clips from newspapers to relate the events that happened. Therefore, the style varies from character to character (as each character has their own way of writing events in their diaries). If this does not suit you and you do not think that you will like this book, don’t leave yet! Get the book from the library and read the first several chapters before judging a book by its cover, as trite as that may sound.
Count Dracula is said to live in the Carpathian Mountains. Obviously, he is a vampire and there are rumors about how he hunts little children at night and feasts on their blood.
However, Jonathan Harker does not believe any of these “stories” and visits the Count in his castle for some business. Although the journey to the castle was a little strange, the Count seems nice enough. He gives Jonathan a hearty dinner and a comfortable room to sleep in. He is also very pleasant to talk to, and he only tells Jonathan that he cannot go into a certain area of the castle as the “single rule” of his visit.
At first, Jonathan thinks that the stories people tell about the Count are false and that when he leaves he will prove everyone wrong. But soon enough, Jonathan begins to notice strange things about the Count.
First of all, he never sees the Count during the day. The castle always seems empty and lonely. Second, the Count never dines with Jonathan. Certainly, he sits and talks to Jonathan as he eats, but he never eats any of the food himself.
But when Jonathan is shaving with a piece of razor in the bathroom one early morning, something extremely strange happens. In the mirror, Jonathan sees the door open and close by itself. He turns around and sees the Count standing behind him. He is so startled that he jumps, and cuts himself with the razor. The Count does not have a reflection! But what is even more strange is the look on the Count’s face when he sees the blood streaming down Jonathan’s neck. Just for a second his eyes sparkle greedily and he looks as if he is ready to pounce. But then his eyes clear up and he helps Jonathan stop the bleeding.
After this incident, Jonathan is more wary. He observes the Count closely and tries to figure out what he does and who he really is. One night, he sees the Count crawling down the wall of his castle (outside) like a lizard. He gets to the ground and runs off somewhere like a wild animal that has been let loose. And, most importantly, the Count is wearing Jonathan’s clothes!
That same night, Jonathan hears a baby crying in the room next to his. He hears footsteps, and then a slurping sound. The baby whimpers painfully, and then all is still. Jonathan shudders. Then, he hears a woman screaming for her baby. When he glances out of the door of his window, the woman glares at him and yells, “Monster, give me back my baby!” And then it hits Jonathan that the Count was in his clothes, meaning everyone will think that he took the baby.
A prisoner in the castle (for Jonathan realizes that there is no way out and that he is locked inside), he goes quite crazy and begins to ramble mentally.
Simultaneously, Jonathan’s beautiful wife, Mina Harker, keeps a diary at home. She writes about how much she misses her husband and how she spends her quite ordinary life. But when he does not return as promised, she begins to worry.
In addition, her friend, Lucy, has been acting strangely. She has a dazed look and a red mark on her neck that seems to never heal. One night, Mina swears she sees Lucy sitting on a rock near the shore with a dark figure hunched over her.
When Jonathan and Mina finally reunite, they tell each other what happened and together decide to fight this monster until he stops plaguing the village and its people. It’s something only brave souls would choose to do, and Jonathan and Mina use the power of love and teamwork to try and achieve something that they never thought they would have to do….
My Thoughts + Rating
I would give this book a 8/10 (so 4/5 stars on Goodreads) for several reasons. Let’s start with the positives. I really enjoyed the style of the book and I thought it was interesting how Stoker would switch around the narrators to connect all the events and add to them (based on what characters experienced the events and how it happened). I also enjoyed the “mystery” factor of this book because I found myself trying to guess and who the Count was myself and trying to figure out his next move in terms of what Jonathan and Mina were planning. However, the reason why my rating is missing 2 stars is because I thought there could be a little more history on how Count Dracula was treated throughout different cultures and religions. The book started right when Jonathan is traveling to the castle, so I did not understand why he kept mentioning the Count as a mystery that nobody really understood until after I met the Count. That was a little confusing, but there is plenty of supplements online that I found after researching so if you find yourself confused you can search up “Count Dracula” on Google. Otherwise, this book was a thrilling read and I recommend it to everyone.