Insomnia is my thing lately. Don’t sleep; stay up forever. Might as well write, right? So here it is, a book review. I know you’ve been dying for it, and I gotta say, I’ve been dying to write it.
Dracula was one of those books that I pretended to read in high school and then glossed over in college. Horror isn’t really my thing (Although Stephen King is probably one of my favorite writers ever. His genre of choice is unfortunate). Recently, I decided that I wanted to read more classics and so I bought a few on Audible. Audible is the bomb.
They had an Audible Studios edition of Dracula narrated by a full cast and oh, my. It was perfection. Alan Cumming was Dr. Seward. Katherine Kellgren was Mina Harker, Simon Vance was Jonathan Harker, and Tim Curry was Dr. Van Helsing. The narration was spot on. The narrator who did the voice of Lucy was irritating (her name escapes me at the moment), so I found Lucy irritating, but I think I would have anyway. Audible did a terrific job producing this.
The story is told in a series of diary entries, letters, and telegrams (the official word for those are epistolary novels, fyi). I didn’t know that before, or I might have read it sooner. I have an affinity for stories told in this manner. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of my favorites for that exact reason. It credibly shows what each character was thinking or feeling without putting the reader in the omniscient perspective. It was perfect for the chilling story which was told.
The plot differed widely from the Dracula I had come to know through popular culture.
Dracula is truly creepy and super old. He’s not redeemable, not good, but pure evil. And ridiculously smart. This isn’t Frankenstein’s monster or some mindless Edward-like vamp. This is a genius who pits his wits against a motley crew of Britain’s finest.
Dr. Van Helsing is also brilliant, but definitely needs the help of his little band.
The story starts with Jonathan visiting Dracula’s castle and realizing what he is. It’s very creepy and I had to stop listening for a time so I could reasonably get over it. Then Lucy becomes a vampire and thus the Band of Awesome is born. That’s just the title I gave them in my head. You’ve got Arthur, Lucy’s former fiancé. He’s a bit squeamish, but willing to undergo any trial to pay Dracula back for changing his darling girl. Then there are her two other suitors who were rejected: Dr. Seward (my personal favorite), and Quincy. Seward runs an asylum and Quincy is an American Cowboy. I love that Americans are represented in this tale. Seward calls Van Helsing, who knows more about Lucy’s “disease”, to help heal her. However, they fail and she is transformed into a child-eating vamp. Then Jonathan and Mina join the group as they discover they have all endured similar circumstances and that a grave danger faces England should Dracula move to London, as is his intent.
I have to say, Bram Stoker wrote women rather well for a man of his time. Wilhelmina is no delicate flower in need of rescuing. She is rescued, but she’s strong and contributes to her salvation by keeping spirits high and organizing all the information and, in the end, going with Van Helsing to Transylvania. I admire her relationship with Jonathan so much. He trusts her to do her own thing and respects her strength, mentally, emotionally, and morally. And she loves and respects him and his passion for his work. She wants to be a part of his life and he wants to be a part of hers. It’s a really awesome relationship. They are basically the perfect couple and were it not for the pesky vampire they would have had a delightful life.
I don’t want to tell all that happens because I enjoyed listening to it so much. Even if you’ve read it before, the Audible version is golden; you should go listen to it. It’s intense and beautiful. It’s intensely beautiful. This book is definitely on my favorites list.