by Bram Stoker
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Vampire lore is so much a part of popular folklore and urban culture. However, this is where it all started. Count Dracula was the most famous vampire of his days, and definitely the first one to capture popular imagination. So much, that this story is one of the most adapted (copied, remade, spoofed) books and has in turn inspired so many other books, movies and serials in this genre.
About the book.. some parts are very scary and send a chill down the spine. This is especially true of the beginning of the book as John travels to Transylvania to the Count's house and discovers some shocking facts, again around the chapters related to Lucy's troubles, and some scenes in the mental asylum, and again during the baptism of blood that Mina is subject to. There is a lot of Christian religious imagery (with holy wafers and crucifixes being choice weapons in this war alongside flowers of garlic and rifles) which reflects the social conditions of Stoker's time. The plot premise of the book is very captivating and promising, and probably represents an intrinsic fear that many people have, of some larger than life trouble/disaster coming on a visit home, and wreaking untold havoc in the hitherto safe place that we love and call home. Van Helsing's character in particular is very interesting, and seems to be a kind of larger than life tomb raider who trots around the globe hunting vampires and other 'affronts to humanity'...in a sense Helsing seems like the forerunner of Buffy,... and also Lara Croft and others like them.
However, I found the end of the book pretty lame compared to the way the stage was set up all around. Having seen some pretty powerful vampire characters in movies and serials like Underworld and Buffy, and even mushy romantic sagas of today like Twilight, it was hard to digest that it can be so easy for Helsing and company to just swoop in and so totally ruin the party for the count. It was sometimes just a bit hard to digest the miraculous qualities and powers of holy wafers (of which Helsing seems to have an infinite supply).
There are many memorable, spine chilling scenes in this book. Some of the ones that I found the strongest are:
- The three ladies manifesting from moonlight dust in the Count's castle, when John goes exploring
- the count tossing the bag containing the infant to the women
- Lucy's dream walk to the church yard and what happened there
- the zoophagus maniac in the asylum talking about why the carnivore need not feel any guilt about killing the animals that it must eat (or something similar) [which was implied to be understood as an analogy of the vampire and humans]
- the blood baptism of Mina
The book is full of bone chilling quotes and scary scenes and is definitely a classic...least of all for being the forerunner of a genre which has grown and manifested itself to such an extent that it is a staple urban legend of today's world. View all my reviews