Dracula by Bram Stoker, narrated by B.J. Harrison

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Dracula is a Transylvanian monarch planning on purchasing a ruined castle in England. Before he knows it, Jonathan is trapped inside Dracula’s castle as a prisoner. Taken from a collection of journal entries, letters, telegrams, and newspaper clippings, Dracula is the grand sire of all vampire tales. Discover the nefarious means Dracula uses to enter England and wreak his hellish havoc. Who can stop the lord of the undead? Only the Dutch scientist Van Helsing can persuade the disbelieving to believe the reality that there are creatures of the night beyond our ken – things that suck the blood of the living, transform into mist, and flee to the safety of their coffins before the rising of the sun.

 

I first tried to read this back in 2013 when I got a free copy of the book at NYCC.
They gave them out after the panel for the NBC drama Dracula staring Jonathan Rhys Meyers.

Back then I got about 64 pages in before I gave up (right after Lucy’s letter about her three proposals.) I was bored and annoyed that the story was told through letters and diary entries. I wanted the point of view from Dracula himself. (What are his true origins? Is he the first ever vampire? How old is he?)

Then I got into audiobooks and I really enjoy B.J. Harrison’s narrations. (I listened to his narration of The Count of Monte Cristo.) When I saw he narrated Dracula I thought I would try again.

I enjoyed it so much more this time and followed along with the copy I kept from NYCC 2013. (Some sentences were missing from the audiobook! Different editions, perhaps?)

Ok, so some spoilers below. Are they still spoilers when the book has been out for over 100 years?

Mina is my favorite character. She is so smart. I love that she had the idea to transcribe the journals written in short hand to typewritten and arrange them in chronological order. And she memorized train schedules! She is the Hermione of this group. (Even though Hermione came many years later.)

I know it is the late 1800s but I got so angry at the sexism, especially from Van Helsing. “Thanks Mina for all your brilliant work, you have the brain of a man! But now it’s going to get violent and your poor womanly nature can’t handle it so you’re excluded from our boys club now.” Really? WTF!

And then what happens – she is bitten and cursed by Dracula. Lesson learned, men. Don’t be so sexist next time.

This is why I am so torn about Van Helsing, because he is smart and deduces the situation very well. But, ugh, the 1800s sexism! Also, his Professor-like explanations were so long and philosophical. If I had just been reading and didn’t have Harrison’s narration I would have given up again.

The ending is a bit abrupt. There was so much anticipation with the traveling and planning but then the final confrontation was so quick, about 4-5 pages, and then a one page epilogue.

I am glad that Jonathan and Mina Harker got their happy ending. So, where did the whole fan fiction notion that Mina is Dracula’s reincarnated wife start? As far as I can tell, it started with the Francis Ford Coppola film.

Also, where in the retellings and adaptations did Van Helsing turn into an experienced vampire hunter? He’s a doctor and this was his first, and as far as I can tell, his only adventure in killing vampires.

The parts with Lucy dragged on a bit and was still a bit cryptic. I still am not clear on the science and mythology of becoming a vampire. It seems her experiences differed from Mina’s.

Something else that also had me thinking about Harry Potter (even though that was written a century later) was that Dracula’s coffins were like his Horcruxes. They were being hunted and destroyed and when only one was left Dracula was afraid and he fled.

Overall I am glad I gave this story a second chance through the audiobook. I know I mention quite a few critiques but I really did enjoy the story. There is a lot of deep philosophical and religious meaning.

3.5 out of 5 Fangs.

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