Special Note: I had planned on reviewing Dracula Un-Dead with Rebecca this week but life happened to get in the way coupled with no net for the past few days so I got a bit behind on things especially my reading. Grr. So, since I'm like one of the five people in the world who hadn't read Dracula until now, I decided to read it before the sequel. Here are my thoughts of the original granddaddy vampire that started the phenomenon, Dracula. And a special review for the other four people. ;-)
My edition of Dracula is the tie-in for Francis Ford Coppola's movie. It includes a wonderful intro by Leonard Wolf and some black and white glossy pics from the movie (which I didn't mind because the costumes, makeup and setting were gorgeous despite the muddled adaptation). I really liked the intro that gave an overview of the history of vampire literature including the effect that Dracula had on mainstream culture (including all silver screen incarnations).
Today's audiences know the pop culture ideal of Dracula and his effects on vampire lore. Thus the great reveal isn't so great but the classic vampire story still holds up today. As a historical gothic horror, it's an amazing piece of work for setting a mood for a spooky tale as the inhabitants of Yorkshire are effected by Dracula's presence. Although not the first in vampire literature, it's easy to see how the influence was great in overall vampire culture. The style of journal entries revealing the character's fear and inner thoughts offers a type of storytelling that still seems fresh today in the age of 'found footage'.
One interesting aspect is Jonathan Harker's opening meditation on the various nationalities among the Carpathian mountains which reveal a lot of British thoughts toward "the other" immigrants of the time. Dracula himself is an exotic representation of such a background as well as the darkness of humanity. Mina Harker (nee Murray) turned out to be a pretty smart and strong yet vulnerable character. She's right there with the guys trying to dissect and figure out the deaths and mysteries surrounding their town and even gets armed with her own revolver towards the end climax.
I wish I had a chance to read this in depth when I was younger. I knew it in passing, from lightly flipping through it, and from pop culture but never had a chance to read it fully until now. I had studied the real life inspiration (Wallachian prince Vlad Tepes III aka Vlad Dracul aka the Impaler) and enjoyed all the behind the scenes docs on the book and historical figure. It was interesting seeing how much of real history Stoker incorporated in Dracula. I'm sure I would have eaten this book right up along with Interview With the Vampire. Modern audiences may think the story is a bit slow moving since most of the action takes place off screen and is talked about via the diary entries afterward. Still, the emotion is strong, the characters are multifaceted, the mood is dark and the dialogue is snappy. This is a definite new favorite of mine and will take it's place right next to the Vampire Chronicles and my The Penguin Book of Vampire Stories paperback.