New WKAR Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Current StateThis is my third Halloween on WKAR’s Current State, and I decided to sink my teeth into Dracula by Bram Stoker. (I know… I know… bad joke. Sometimes I can’t help myself.)

You can listen to my review here:

If you would rather read my review, you can do so below.

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If you want to check out my other book reviews for WKAR’s Current State, you can do so via links on this page.

Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

Welcome to my house! Come freely. Go safely. And leave something of the happiness you bring!

With those words, Coudracula-covernt Dracula has been welcoming readers into his castle in Transylvania for over 100 years now. Dracula was not the first vampire in literature, but he is easily the most important. The count has flown out of Bram Stoker’s classic novel like a bat and into our cultural imagination. The vampires of today’s fantasy fiction all owe something to the dark count. Yet, when contemporary readers turn to Stoker’s original novel they might be surprised. Because, pardon the pun, it is easy for reviewers to take a bite out of this imperfect horror.

The Dracula in Bram Stoker’s book is not the vampire you might expect. Movies and other pop culture usually miss the mark when it comes to the novel’s central character. Even the 1992 film Bram Stoker’s Dracula is not really Bram Stoker’s Dracula. The original Dracula is not a romantic hero. He is a monster, driven by his hunger for blood and his uncontrolled lust to take what he wants.

There are three things that will surprise contemporary readers when they pick up this classic novel. The first is how little horror there really is in the book. It may seem strange to say it, but the body count is surprising low. There’s only a few moments of real white-knuckle terror scenes. My favorite one is the sea journey Dracula takes to London. During the trip he takes out members of the crew one by one, and you can feel the desperation and fear grow with each new entry in the ship’s logs.

It’s also surprising how little we see of the vampire. While the book is called Dracula, the infamous count only makes a few appearances in its pages. Yes, he is the focus of all of the main characters’ discussions, but beyond some conversations with his English broker, Jonathon Harker, in the beginning, he is nothing more than a dark and haunting shadow lurking in the background. He is the mystery to be solved, and then becomes the focus of the heroes’ hunt for justice.

The third, and the most surprising for me during this recent reading is how religious the novel is. The friends of Dracula’s first victim spend the book seeking revenge for their deceased friend. Each member of the team views their work as something spiritual, part of a great battle between good and evil. Honestly, it can get a little heavy handed.

If you have the ability to turn off everything you know about the count and his tale and just experience the book as Stoker intended, it’s actually a good story with some interesting high points. For example, the narrative is told through a series of diaries, journals and letters. This gives us an interesting first hand insight into all of the characters as they discover and experience the horror of Count Dracula’s actions. While we go in knowing exactly who Dracula is, the characters have to be convinced of the monster. We expect the fangs, they don’t.

Dracula by Bram Stoker might not be the thriller you believe it to be. And like Harker standing at the doorway of the castle you have to decide for yourself if you wish to enter or not. Go on. It’s Halloween. What do you have to lose?

New book! New book! New book!Permanent Spring Showers

My latest novel Permanent Spring Showers was just published by 5 Prince Books. You can find out more about my novel as well as my other books (including A Jane Austen Daydream and My Problem With Doors) and grab a copy via my author page on here.

Need an editor? Dream of finishing that book but need some help? Learn about my editing services by visiting this page on my site. Or you can contact Rebecca T. Dickson and request to work with me by clicking the image below.

Rebecca T. Dickson, Editor

7 thoughts on “New WKAR Book Review: Dracula by Bram Stoker

  1. Pingback: Monsters, Vampires and Chewbacca: Some Halloween Posts | The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

  2. I enjoyed your review on Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ and I’m not surprised you found the religious slant quite heavy. Did you know that Bram (Abraham) Stoker was born in Clontarf, Dublin and married to a former girlfriend of Oscar Wilde, Florence Balcombe? Although Stoker doesn’t label anyone in his book as Catholic or Protestant, the religious affiliation of characters is definitely suggested, ie Van Helsing’s
    Catholicism is brought out when he removes a small, gold crucifix from his neck and places it on the dead lips of Lucy. In one part of the story, Jonathan Harker calls himself an English Churchman, indicating Church of England or Protestant faith. ‘Dracula’ may very well have been Stoker’s attempt at pro-Catholic propaganda (although according to historical records he was not a Catholic himself) at a time when it was risky to be too outspoken about such things. It seems that his wife, Florence, converted to Catholicism in 1904, after the publication of ‘Dracula’ and eight years before Stoker’s death.

    • Interesting. Thank you for sharing that. A part of me almost wondered if he did it so often in the book to balance out everything happening on the other side. I really knew very little about Stoker going in for this new reading of the book.

      • If you keep in mind the society he grew up in you can see how he might have been sympathetic to his Catholic friends and neighbours. As a young child/adult, Stoker would have seen how bigotry and bias often resulted in unfair treatment when Catholics sought employment or chose a particular area to set up home.

  3. Pingback: The Classics I’ve Reviewed | The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

  4. Pingback: Halloween Redux | The Musings & Artful Blunders of Scott D. Southard

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