Book Review: Dracula

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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Copyright © 2015 Bryce Campbell. All Rights Reserved.