Bram Stoker’s Dracula

Jonathan Harker is a real estate agent who has to travel to the mountains of Transylvania to meet Count Dracula to discuss affairs of the latter’s latest acquisition, a rundown castle in England. Harker braves the journey, even though he has his own doubts when the innkeeper (where he stays for a bit) gives him a crucifix and asks him to keep it for his mother’s sake. What follows is a bizarre adventure that starts with his imprisonment by the Count and ends with his escaping the dreaded castle where the dead rise from their graves. He keeps a count of the incidents that occur in the castle, and even when he is finally in the arms of his love, Mina Harker, he is visited by nightmares of the stay with Count Dracula.

Lucy Westenra is a demure English girl, who’s biggest problem at the moment is being proposed to by three very eligible gentlemen. Dr.Seward is a psychiatrist, Quincey Morris is American and is fun to be with, but above these two, is Arthur Holmwood whom she truly loves. But weird things start happening to Lucy when she starts sleep-walking and is, one night, found in a graveyard with a man in a black hooded overcoat. She also has a mysterious wound on her neck which worries her doctor, Lord Van Helsing who has arrived to treat her at the behest of Dr.Seward.

When Lucy dies due to excessive blood loss, her family and friends are none the wiser about the meaning behind it. But Van Helsing has his own doubts, which are proved when he finds Lucy’s coffin empty in the crematorium. What’s even more bewildering is Lucy back in the same coffin during daytime, looking as beautiful as ever, without the slightest signs of being a one week old cadaver.

How did Lucy die? And why does she seem to be regaining her youth after death? And what are those 50 wooden boxes that the Count despatched to England from his castle? What does Mina have to do with all this, other than being Jonathan Harker’s wife? How many more will fall prey to the Count, and become the Un-Dead?

Bram Stoker answers all these and more with his amazing horror story of a book, ‘Dracula’. The book is a set of letters (between the various characters) and diary entries of the Harkers & Dr.Seward and traces the series of events that lead to the revelation of the true identity of Count Dracula and Mina Harker.

The language is pompous, characteristic of prim and proper English men and women, with exaggerated proclamations of friendship and faithfulness. But then, the novel was written in 1897 – enough reason why every sentence written reeks of chivalry! Some of those are so cliched-ly chivalrous, that if it weren’t for the fact that the book is about vampires, it would seem outright funny. It’s set in the England of yore, where women were treated as delicate darlings in the truest sense of the phrase.

The way the author has painted the characters, leaves nothing to doubt. Making the movie must have been a relatively painless affair, thanks to the vivid details presented in the book. What I loved about the narration was the way the author kept the interest going, even though the concept of vampires and Dracula, in general, are very well known these days. The puncture wounds on the victims, the garlic used to keep the vampire away, escaping wolves and a zoophagus mentally-ill patient – we know what it’s all about, but still we can’t wait for the actual words to appear in the book! Now, that’s what I call a page-turner.

What remains now is the on screen adaptation of the book. Something tells me I shouldn’t watch it alone. And maybe I should sleep with a couple of garlic cloves under my pillow!

An excerpt (from the back cover of the book) –

There he lay looking as if youth had been half renewed, for the white hair and moustache were changed to dark iron-grey; the cheeks were fuller, and the white skin seemed ruby red underneath; the mouth was redder than ever, for on the lips were gouts of fresh blood, which trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over the chin and neck. Even the deep, burning eyes seemed set amongst swollen flesh, for the lids and pouches underneath were bloated. It seemed as if the whole awful creature were simply gorged with blood; he lay like a filthy leach, exhausted with his repletion.

If this cannot get you interested, I don’t know what will!

You can read the book online on Dracula’s page – apparently, the work is now in public domain in the US and other countries where copyrights expire for works published before 1923. (Whatever that’s supposed to mean!)

If you feel the book is just too much trouble, well, you’ll just have to catch the movie. The latest I heard of is the one with Gary Oldman as Dracula and Winona Ryder as Mina Harker (directed by none less than Francis Ford Coppola). But for a true bibliophile, nothing beats the touch and feel of a book. Absolutely nothing. So while you get a tub of popcorn and sit in front of the television, I will snuggle into my bean bag with a cup of hot chocolate and my favorite tome.

P.S: The book is a gift from my husband – a souvenir from a church in Whitby, which was Dracula’s home in England.
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8 thoughts on “Bram Stoker’s Dracula

  1. wow u sure are lucky!!! what a piece to add to your already existing collection!!! I’m reading devil wears prada now….and then i have to look up jonathan strouds books u mentioned…so pleae read a bit slower ok!!!:D

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  2. This is one of the best horror novels i have ever read and it sure haunted me for atleast a week..Jonathan harker’s experience with count in the first 70 odd pages were the spookiest of them.. Its a real classic!! Dont miss the movie it has huge star cast with Anthony Hopkins playing the role of Van Helsing and Keanu Reeves playing Harker..Oldman as the count himself plus the film is directed by coppolla too its a perfect remake..good review really!!

    BTW hw could u read after returning from work?? i hit the bed as soon as i come home..i am missin my student days very much..

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  3. Me is sooooooooo J.
    How do u get to read such awesome books always :((
    btw my librarian disappointed me with her words “Sorry ! We don’t have Jonathan Stroud’s books” 😦
    And as sharan sez please do read a bit slower πŸ˜€ We need to catch up πŸ˜›

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  4. I can’t believe I haven’t read this book yet. Now I certainly will. And this review was tons better than the oh-so-many-other reviews, that didn’t send me straight to the bookshelf.

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  5. Sharan – Please don’t kannu-vechchufy on my reading capabilities 😦 Me squeezes in the books during my commute, while waiting for the oil to heat up in the kadai, etc. 😐

    Venki – πŸ™‚ Please see above response.

    Nithya – Again, previous response! πŸ™‚ You’d find Stroud’s books online (if doing that doesnt make you as guilty as it makes me ofcourse) Try esnips.com

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