October Online ebook club wrap-up: Dracula

DraculaThis month we looked at classic horror for our online ebook club. Dracula by Bram Stoker, published in 1896 is a novel that has inspired hundreds of film adaptations, plays and other cultural works. For those that don’t know the story, it follows a group of English men and women, led by an intrepid Dutchman, as they discover and subsequently attempt to destroy a Vampire who has already killed one of their own.

I found the novel engrossing and easy to read. It was written as a series of letters and diary entries from various characters and this format made the story more intriguing. It was also refreshing to read about a vampire being an actual ‘bad guy’ rather than a romantic who chases around teenage girls showing off his shimmery skin (AKA Edward from Twilight). What I loved most about the novel was Stoker’s descriptions of the various locations. I really got a sense of the beautiful but ominous solitude of Transylvania and the eeriness of Whitby at night. They were quite vivid and added to the creepy tone of the novel.

If there is one major downside to this book, it is its length. It’s quite long and drawn out. Personally I don’t mind this but If you’re a reader that likes a lot of action, this may not be the book for you.

It’s also an interesting reflection of Victorian society. Much of it is quite sexist and this can be hard to take. For example Mina Harker is a very strong, intelligent and capable woman and yet the best ‘compliment’ she receives is that she has a ‘man’s brain’. I’m not sure if Stoker is describing or mocking this part of 19th century society. On the other hand, I did like the way Stoker allowed the men in this novel to cry and get emotional – this is something we don’t seen widely in literature and film. The novel also brings up the question of sexuality with the vampires often described as ‘voluptuous’ (I think this could be Stoker’s favourite word). This is a little amusing but could be a reflection on Victorian society standards with anything sexual related to evil. This is also possibly where the notion of the romantic vampire was born (so we have Stoker to blame for Edward and his sparkly skin).

In summary I really enjoyed this novel both as vampire fiction and a historical work. I’d recommend it to anyone that wants to know where the Dracula story began – add it to your reading bucket list.