Dracula by Bram Stoker
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Dracula was nothing like I had expected. This is one of those stories that has been retold so many times by so many people, the original gets more and more lost. In contemporary vamp fiction we see the vampires being the good guys. They save innocent humans, fall in love with them and care for them. And some of them even sparkle.
But nothing like that in the original Dracula by Bram Stoker. Vampires are monsters, downright evil, the devil on earth. They have no redeeming quality, they are horrible and sadistic, only on this planet to spread their doom.
Dracula was refreshingly different. It feels good to have a big evil vamp again, and not the sexy vamp fluff we have nowadays. And the way Stoker describes him, you really believe there is nothing good left in the Count.
We start reading Jonathan Harkers diary. I truly love that Stoker choose for this form. The diary feels like you are reading someone's intimate thoughts, like you are peeking into someone's life. And in this book the diary actually makes sense. It has a purpose, and it is logical that this diary is still being kept in the most pressing situations. And it doesn't take away the action. The story is off course not so fast paced and action-packed as a lot of novels are now, but it isn't boring at all, the story unfolds like the tide; slowly, but you cannot stop it.
Because we read this story from so many points of view, we get to see a much larger picture than if we would only read the diary of lets say, Mina. We can get to conclusions and see connections between the stories before the characters do. I think this made the story quite enjoyable.
I really felt for the characters, they seemed so real. Their despair and fear is so heartfelt and at some point of the story when (trying really hard not to spoil) something bad happened to one of the characters I almost felt like crying with them.
There were only two things that really bothered me. The first: Stoker has never been to Holland, and he should not write about a Dutchman if he apparently has never seen one ever. Most Dutch people would rather be found dead than to be heard saying "Mein Gott". That is German. We speak Dutch, not German. Van Helsing should be such an academical and smart man, why can't he learn the simplest English grammar? This was the one and only time I did not believe Stoker. Evil creature that wants to take over London, sure. But a professor that has knowledge of so many languages, doesn't understand that after "he" or "she" the verb gets an S? That just seemed so wrong to me.
The other thing that bothered me is just fundamental. The women in this book are being looked upon as so much different from men. A quote to illustrate this: "I am truly thankful that she is to be left out of our future work, and even of our deliberations. It is too great a strain for a woman to bear". They do not think about women as lesser human beings, at another point in the book they are praised for their compassion that men do not have, but it just irks me they leave the women out of something as important as this. Why should all women be so faint at heart? This kind of book makes me think about how glad we have to be that there is so much more equality between men and women. Stoker is never condescending about it, and I give him credit for that. He did not live in such an woman-friendly age.
I think this book is legitimately called a classic. It isn't the first story about vampires, and it definitely isn't the last, but it is such an inspiration and such a captivating story. The ending was satisfying, tying all the strings together. I would recommend this book to anyone that wants to know where all this vampirestuff comes from.