Let’s make one thing clear–I typically stay away from the horror section of all bookstores and libraries. I’m easily frightened, unbearably paranoid, and don’t enjoy the goosebumps, cold sweats, or “hair on end” feelings that spooky books typically produce.
But I think I may be a convert. I absolutely loved Bram Stoker’s classic horror novel Dracula, and I’m eager to dive deeper into the Gothic Horror genre. Here are my thoughts on the classic book:
Most people know the story of Dracula from it’s infiltration of pop culture and countless adaptations. I’m one of those hermits that somehow has never seen any form of a Dracula spin-off–probably because vampires are sp0oky–but it worked in my favor this time. I was pleasantly surprised by some elements of the book that would’ve been ruined for me had I known they were coming.
Dracula begins with the journey of Jonathan Harker, a young solicitor who’s heading to a remote location in Transylvania to assist a man named Count Dracula with some legal matters for the sale of an estate in London. Throughout his journey, things seem a little suspicious. Although he doesn’t speak the same language as the locals, it becomes clear that they are trying to dissuade him from going to the castle, and constantly cross themselves in his presence. He hears them muttering words like “Satan” and “Hell,” and one woman even gives him a rosary for protection. He tries to shake it off, and politely rejects their advice to call off his trip.
Once he finally arrives at the castle and meets the man he was hired to assist, things get even weirder. Mr. Dracula has a strange demeanor (and he totally wreaks, like really, really stinks), never seems to eat, and keeps his castle completely devoid of mirrors and most other reflective surfaces (Jonathan finds this incredibly irritating… I mean, how is a man supposed to shave without a looking glass?). Things get really spooky when Jonathan begins to explore the castle and determines that Dracula is holding him as a prisoner. His items begin to disappear, he nearly falls prey to some sexy vampiresses in the castle, and discovers that Dracula can crawl up and down walls like a lizard (!?). As soon as he plots his escape, we jump to a new perspective. Ultimately, readers get the perspective of several interconnected lives that band together to destroy Dracula and his sexy henchwomen before he spreads vampirism throughout London.
The entire novel is told in diary entries, newspaper articles, and correspondences, which means the perspective regularly changes throughout. I was a little leery about this writing style going in, but it’s so well done and easy to follow that I actually really enjoyed it.
At first, I was a little annoyed with the way the men in the novel coddle the women and attempt to keep them out of danger. It’s actually very sweet what lengths they go to in order to protect and care for them, but the societal norms of the time were very clearly abundant here. It seemed that women were fragile and needed protection that only a man (or men) could offer. However, these feelings were subsided when I realized that Mina Harker is one of the strongest, most intelligent characters (female or otherwise) I’ve ever read in classic literature. She was the most instrumental character in bringing the novel to its satisfying conclusion.
One thing I really loved about this novel: All the primary characters (with the exception, of course, of Dracula and his henchwomen) are genuinely goodhearted, and upstanding people who truly want the best for their friends and neighbors. They go through some of the most horrifying experiences to take care of those they love, and it was wonderful to follow the lives of so many fantastic characters.
Overall, Dracula is a great classic novel to read for anyone who enjoys Gothic Horror or just wants a spooky story to read before bed. I absolutely loved it and am on the lookout for more Gothic Horror. Reading suggestions for me? Leave them below!
And, if you enjoyed Dracula, check out this video from Book Riot for contemporary reading suggestions. This is the video that convinced me to read Dracula in the first place: