Book Review: Dracula

May 22, 2017

Project Gutenberg Dracula cover

I hope that everyone has been having a good week, regardless
of what kind of monotony you have to deal with.

Things have been going fairly well here, even if things have
not changed too much.

I was planning to take a break before that titles that I had
preordered and/or requested arrived, but I ultimately decided not and took
another look through Project Gutenberg's catalog to see if anything seemed to
be interesting.

Today, I will be reviewing that title, which is called Dracula by Bran Stoker.

Jonathan Harker has been sent on behalf on his employer to
help a client, by the name of Count Dracula, find a new home in England, as he
feels like moving from Transylvania, and they seem to get along fairly well.

However, when Dracula makes the move from Transylvania to
England, things start happening around the town, even to those that Jonathan
has connections with, and it is up to Jonathan and friends to put a stop to
things before the problem spreads too far.

Some of you guys may not know this, but I do sometimes
wonder what the original version of stories and character were like, which
causes me to go looking around for details, and Count Dracula, a vampire that
is probably as well-known as Sherlock, Hercule Poirot, and few other characters
found in the world of detective and crime fiction, was one of those I wondered
about, so I decided to give this book a try, even though I am kind of annoyed
vampires.

And after reading this, I have to say that I was not that
impressed.

Fortunately, there were a few things to like, so I do not
need to jump right into what I hated, which gives me a sigh of relief.

When I opened up this book and started reading it, I felt
like I was rather engrossed with the whole world and wanted to know what was
going on, though I was not as enthralled with it to the point where I did not
want to stop reading like so many books released today have.

If I had to say why, it is because Bram Stoker was able to
mostly pull off what I expected from a horror story.

Now, out of all the genres out there, horror may not be the
one that I have the most experience with, as not many horror stories have been
able to catch my interest and I have dealt more with detective, mystery, crime
fiction, but the horror genre is not entirely new to me because Another, one
of the first simulcasts I covered from beginning to end, is also considered
part of the horror genre, so I am aware of what it needs to have.

Out of all those elements required in horror, the most
important thing establish on, and hopefully maintain, is a creepy atmosphere.
Without that creepy atmosphere, there is almost no way that the audience can
get the feelings of terror they expect to get from the work, and fans of the
horror genre will just put down the book if they do not get those feeling, much
like fans of detective, mystery, and crime fiction would come away disappointed
if a book was unable to give them what they.

And In the case of this book, Bram Stoker is easily able to
create that creepy vibe around Dracula's castle and it makes me think that I
will be in for the ride of my life, and possibly give me as many nightmares as
the Book of Revelation found in the Bible, which ends up getting my hopes up
quite high.

If Bram Stoker was not able to do this much, I highly doubt
that Count Dracula would have been so famous in our world today, even
overshadowing Prince Vlad of Wallachia, and I probably would have ended up
hating this book more than I do, and I probably would have also called Bram a
writer that is as terrible as John Grisham.

However, because he was able to do that much right, I feel
like giving him some praise, though not as much as I would have given Yukito
Ayatsuji or many of the other writers out there. Nice job, Bram.

I also liked how I did not know who was vampire and who was
not within the first few pages of the story.

Back when vampires and the occult was big in our modern
society, one of the problems I had with vampire stories was that it was too
easy to tell if a person was vampire, especially in the Twilight movie,
because they just seem to give off a weird vibe, and that, along with writers
not really giving their own unique spin vampires, led to me getting really
tired of vampires as a whole.

Here, however, even though there were hints that Count
Dracula was a vampire, and everyone alive today knows that Dracula is a
vampire, I never really suspected that he was a vampire at all, just some
mysterious person, and, as a result, I got the same interest in finding out who
this mysterious Count Dracula really was that I get from the best cases from
Detective Conan or Agatha Christie best works.

Seriously, I wish vampire stories were present more like
this when vampires were all the rage, because this is reminding of all those
series that I follow where I reach that point in the story that was just as
interesting as it was the first time around, because trying to find out who is
a vampire and who is not adds in that mystery element that every story needs to
shine.

Then again, as this is my first time reading this book, and
it is also the first book to feature the Count, I would expect nothing less
from the creator of such a recognizable vampire, so all I can do is give Bram
Stoker a pass, though if I was actually more interested in vampires than I am,
I would have given him a big round of applause for at least doing something
that people just cannot seem to accomplish.

Hopefully, people looking to create vampires stories in the
future can take a look at this book and see how one should properly introduce
vampires into their work, because these obvious telltale signs that a character
is vampire.

Another nice thing about this book was that I did not feel
totally lost.

While this book was not exactly easy to follow all the way
through, unlike most of the fiction written today, I do not remember wondering
how things happened the way they did or why.

In our society, we place many works on a pedestal for and
call them classics, but the way they read does not exactly help me to remember
what happened previously because of varying factors, including the ones that
made this book hard for me to be able read, and that partially helps to make
them feel less deserving of the classic label.

Here, however, there a few scenes, especially towards the
end, that held my interest long enough to find out what the characters in the
book planning to do and what they did, which made this book a bit easier to
follow than the other so-called classics, and I again feel like giving Bram
some praise for doing something right.

I am not too sure about you guys, but this at least makes
the book good enough to get closer to actually a decent book than The Great
Gatsby
and so many other titles that school have their student read.

Still, even though I am giving Bram Stoker a passing grade,
that does not mean that fiction writers today can get away with this because I
expect every great story to get a perfect score area, instead of the little
above average that Bram was able to deliver here, and I will chew out anybody
that thinks otherwise, as they do not know what makes a great story.

The thing that I liked the most though was the humor in this
book.

During the course of this book, there are a few letter that
get written here and there that can be read throughout the text and a few of
them were able to give me a chuckle.

The one that stood out the most though was how the female
characters were gushing over men and how they felt lucky for the men in their
lives.

Among my peers and elders, I keep hearing people say that
their significant others are too good for them, and hearing women in this book,
who were still widely viewed as the weaker sex based on incomplete data when
Bran wrote this book, saying that the men in their lives made them feel
unworthy just made me laugh, because it reminded me of why humans are simple,
yet complicated creatures, and it shows that Bram is trying to make his
characters feel a little more realistic by implementing a bit of basic human
psychology.

Work as old as many of the classics we have today may seem
to feel a little dry, but I am glad that they are as devoid of humor as sitcoms
are, when you realize that the only thing making scenes funny is the laugh
tracks.

If Bram did not include any humor whatsoever, I would have
easily marked this already as one of the worst books that I have read, even
though I have not yet begun to focus completely on the negatives of this book,
because the humorous aspects were part of what made this book bearable.

However, because he did implement some humor, I feel like
giving Bram Stoker a bit more praise, though still not enough to be anything
more than average.

Bram Stoker may not have earned my continued patronage, but
he has certainly did give it a nice try, and I hope writers today can learn the
importance of humor in a work of fiction.

Outside of those things, I cannot think of anything else
that I particularly liked, at least that could stand out as much what I have
talked about.

Because a creepy atmosphere was created near the beginning
and Count Dracula did not give off an obvious vibe that he was a vampire, even
though everyone today knows that he is one, and that I was able to get some
laughs, this book was somewhat enjoyable.

Although there were things that I liked about the book there
were some issues.

First, while the book did start off pretty well for a work
considered a horror story, I felt incredibly bored.

Yes, I did already say that I am not a fan of vampire
stories and that does play some part of why I felt so bored, but that is not
the reason why I felt so bored, since there are stories with vampires that I
have enjoyed, though only Weston Kincade's The Priors series, previously known
as the Altered Reality series, could be considered a real book by my
peers and elders.

The biggest reason for this was that the book was written in
a style similar to and read like journal entries.

Bram Stoker may have intended to write this using many
narrators using journal-like entries, but those journal entries need to feel
like they are telling a story, not just recounting what people in the past did,
and it makes it really hard to actually see or what is going on in a work, not
mention it also makes it hard for the reader to immerse themselves in a work.

Readers of fiction and its many subgenres read fiction to
temporarily escape reality and be entertained, as well as get certain feeling
that certain genres are supposed to give the reader, yet Bram Stoker could not
really do that.

Works as old as this book may not be able to match the high-quality
works of fiction that are published today, such as Pandora Hearts, but I
cannot let them off the hook just because the work is old or the character
featured is well-known.

Honestly, I am not too sure how people who read this book
today could be so infatuated with it, when Bram Stoker could not even deliver a
writing that engages people from beginning to end, as I think fans of horror,
like many other readers, want to have their attention held from beginning to
end.

Unfortunately, Bram Stoker failed to deliver that necessary
element of a story, which makes me really disappointed.

Of course, things look a lot worse in the case of this book,
because it is the fifth of twelve books written by Bram, according to a page on a website dedicated to Bram Stoker and has
his name in the domain.

Really, Bram? I know the ability of a writer to write
declines over time, but I do not expect that out a title that precede the
halfway point all works they produce, especially because this book put Bram
Stoker in the limelight.

I may not like every book published these days, but even the
most amateurish writers I have come across write better than Bram Stoker, which
makes me kind of glad that time travel has not really left the theoretical or
science fiction realms, because many of the books we consider classics have
this exact same problem, even if the writers do not use the journal-like style
found in this book.

I also hated how this book did not really feel that
different from any other work featuring vampires, especially ones.

While vampires are not technically the most original thing
on planet, even if you go back to the stories that were told or written before Dracula,
I thought that I would finally get something different from all of the other
vampires that we have today, but I did not.

Yes, most of this has a lot to do with how the vampire of
today are based off of Count Dracula, much like how many famous detectives in
fiction were modeled after Sherlock Holmes, but Sherlock, as he is portrayed in
the books and stories written by Arthur Conan Doyle, still feels original and
interesting, whereas Bram Stoker's Dracula and what he did does not.

I may not expect complete originality, as that is hard to
accomplish in this day and age, but that does not mean that things cannot feel
like an original work, and Bram Stoker was not able to make his famous vampire
feel much more original than the vampires today or the Count Dracula found in
all of the visual media adaptations.

If Bram Stoker were alive today, I would have made him feel
ashamed of himself for creating such garbage, because that is exactly what he
delivered.

After all, I think that readers care more about reading a
story that feels original, instead of trying to be original, and, until writers
today learn that distinction, they will never be able to progress any further.

There were three things that I hated the most though.

First, I hated how I could hardly, if ever, create the
scenes presented in my mind.

Out of all the things that literary experts complain about
with writing today and say that such and such elements are needed, one of the
few that is very important in fiction imagery, or the ability to help the
reader create images in their head.

Now, this work was written in the late 1800's and we are now
in the year 2017, so being able to picture everything mentioned would be rather
impossible, nor do I think that things need to be too detailed, but a reader
wants to be able to create and image their head, so that they can lose
themselves in the sequence of the story.

For example, the methods of travel and the stuff that
existed back when Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle may not exist or be as
prevalent in society today, but I can still draw up what things may have looked
at the time that they were alive and when the stories took place.

However, Bram Stoker cannot seem to be able to draw those
images as easily when he not detailing Dracula's castle.

How can I enjoy this if I cannot create the things in my
head, especially when it is time to go after the big bad of the story? This why
there needs to be a balance between showing and telling in writing, and,
unfortunately, not many writers seem to learn this much.

The second thing that annoyed me was that I did not feel
scared or detect the continued presence of a creepy atmosphere.

Fans of horror, much like fans of detective, mystery, and
crime fiction, have certain expectations of a work that hopefully culminates in
a feeling of terror, and many horror titles, such as the original Ring movie are able to deliver those feelings
to the fans, which makes them want to come back for more.

However, in this book, after the events of Jonathan Harker
first meeting Dracula and seeing what he did during his stay, I do not remember
seeing anything that remotely resembles a horror story, nor am I even scared
while I write this review.

Yes, horror today might be different from what it was in the
past, but if I, a person who does not follow too many horror series, aside from
a few that can get as violent as a slasher flick, cannot feel terror while
reading through the original Dracula story, I highly doubt that an avid horror
reader is going to have the nightmares that they want.

Really, Bram? You call this a horror story? If anything,
this seems more like a poor excuse of a mystery series to me, and I know for
sure that fans of horror do not want a mystery story unless the horror element
does not feel like it is missing.

Right now, it does not really surprise me that the bulk of
horror stuff that is not a slasher flick ends up originating in Japan, because
even the trailers for the original Japanese versions of those movies frighten
me more than this, and that is not what I want to see in a horror story.

The other thing that I hated was how I do not remember this
book ended.

In many great works fiction, people can remember the ending
and how it made the story much more satisfying, while people will also the many
works out there that ended terribly, such as A
Pocket Full Rye
,

However, there is something much than a terrible ending and
that is an ending that one cannot remember.

I the case of this work, I can only remember one death and
one couple has a happy ending, but nothing else.

The ending of a book might make it worse or better, but how
can a reader make that judgment if they cannot remember it? Readers are the
people that determine whether or not is good, especially good enough to reread,
but this is not one of them, and I can only shake my head disappointingly at
the people that even think this is a quality title.

Thankfully, nothing else annoyed me to no end, aside from
things that are too minor talk about, so I do not need to hurt a title beloved
by so many more than I have.

While there were only five things wrong, such as a writing
style that makes it hard to get engaged in the story, the usage of vampires did
not feel like they were original, a lack of imagery, not feeling as frightened
as I wanted to feel, and a forgettable end, the book's quality took a major hit
because those issues were all major issues.

Despite the fact that there were a few things to like, the
negatives outweighed them enough to make this a complete waste of time.

I recommend that everyone avoid this book like the plague,
because it does not deliver what is expected of a good story, or even what fans
of horror want, but if you really want to get this
book
from somewhere like Amazon and give it a go, I will not stop you.

If you liked this review and would like to see more, please
consider supporting me on Patreon,
so that I can continue finding more worthwhile reads for you guys, and do
whatever you do when you find something that impresses you.

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