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Monday, October 27, 2014

Book Review:Dracula

Image credit:Wikipedia
Premise:Two couples are put in danger when they're targeted by a bloodthirsty monster.

Author:
Bram Stoker

Genres:
Horror

Notes:
Cover is 1st edition and is public domain.

Pros:
No cheesy human/vampire romance. Plenty of suspense. A few good characters. Creepy villain.

Cons:
Nonsensical moves. Can be hard to understand. Drags in places. Anti-climatic ending


Ever got a feeling about someone you've met? Like they seem friendly enough, but they have a dark secret? Then you have a basic idea about how Jonathan Harker feels about his host.

And that feeling of creepiness is continued through diaries of unaware victims. You know that terrible things are going on, and that these people are in danger, even if they don't. And another thing that I love about this book is the fact that there isn't any cheesy romance that seems to be a staple of modern vampire stories. Oh, there's sex, but it's not very fun.

Considering the time this was written, Mina Murray ends up being a pretty cool female protagonist. She's not just a damsel-in-distress and actually does play a role in bringing down the evil one. However, most of the male characters aren't so interesting. They fail to explain themselves or stress vital information, or they just act in ways that don't make sense and the result is often disastrous.

Some of the downsides include that it can be hard to understand with its old fashioned writing style. There are also some bits that drag. Don't expect an action packed page turner. Expect more a slow-building up.

Overall, it's a good read. Highly recommended to those willing to be patient.



Sex:The most blatant bit is when Dracula's brides get a look at Jonathan. All express a desire to kiss him, while he shamefully admits that he wishes they would. One runs her tongue along her lips and kisses him on the neck. Our villain is displeased and tells her she can kiss the poor human later.
The rest of it is mostly subtext. Dracula's attacks on the two central female characters have a sexual/rape nature to them, particularly in a scene when he forces one to drink his blood. Her emotional state after this just adds to the rape metaphors. A woman turned into a vampire is called voluptuous, compared to her more "pure" state as a human. A man mentions he finds her arousing, even though she must die.
Several characters kiss or talk about it. A nun, thinking she may have implied Jonathan has fallen out of love with Mina, reassures her that he hasn't fallen for someone else.  Lucy wishes at one point she could marry multiple men so she wouldn't have to reject any.

Violence:
Vampires have a reputation for sucking blood from humans. Someone is struck ill because one feeds on her. Dracula tosses a sack with a baby in it to his female companions as food. The mother comes later and gets eaten by wolves. Another vampire preys on little kids, tearing and biting their throats.
A vampire is killed by driving a stake through her heart. They make doubly sure by cutting off her head. Jonathan wishes he had a lethal weapon to destroy Dracula, but fears it won't work. He tries using a shovel, but ends up only gashing the man's forehead. A man considers suicide to escape Dracula and his minions.
A madman eats his pet animals and feeds them to others. He also attacks someone with a knife and laps up the blood. This isn't the only time he attacks someone or attempts murder. A dog is found dead with its throat torn and its belly slashed. A dead man is found covered in blood, his face beaten and his back broken. Someone whose future is uncertain asks her friends to kill her if necessary. A guy mentions having to shoot his blood-deprived horse. An evildoer threatens to dash a man's brains out.

Language/Insults:The word "h*ll" is used frequently. There are also a few uses of "d**n" and "G*d", sometimes in German. "Blow" is said once.

Drugs/Alcohol:People drink with meals and smoke. One guy chews tobacco rather than smoke it. A man tells Jonathan there's alcohol in the carriage and offers him some. He declines, but feels glad it's there. Drugs and brandy are given to a sick woman. Someone else asks for sleeping medicine. There's mention of a man's father inventing burnt rum punch. One guy gets so drunk, he doesn't remember important information.

Spiritual:Vampires are considered unholy abominations, the Devil's children. They're once compared to necromancers due to their habit of creating more like them. Items like crosses and garlic repel them. One is burned when a holy wafer touches her forehead. When another is killed, it's said she is one of God's true dead now and no longer one of the Devil's undead. And yet another demands a man bow down and worship him.
People react with fear when they find out Jonathan's going to see Dracula, giving him gifts (like a crucifix), crossing themselves, and talking about supernatural creatures and witches. Part of this fear is due to an approaching night when devilish creatures have the most power. A psychic connection comes into play. People worship at a shrine. Jonathan considers crucifixes idolatrous, but is nevertheless grateful to the woman who gave it to him.
A guy rants about lies in pulpits and on tombstones. He tells a story of a man who committed suicide and hoped to go to hell because his pious mother would be in heaven. The storyteller later apologizes for his harsh words and says the angel of death will soon come for him. Attila the Hun is called greater than devils or witches.
The Biblical quote "For the blood is the life" comes into play. A woman laments that God has abandoned her. Van Helsing quotes an American who defined faith as that which enables us to believe things we know to be untrue. The express "worship the ground he walks on" is used. Jonathan says he would sell his soul to stop Dracula. He's told to hush because God doesn't buy souls and the Devil can't be trusted.
Various references are made to Catholicism and Christianity. A man hopes for God, Mary, and the saints to help him. Someone wonders if a dream is like the pillar of cloud by day and of fire by night. A guy is compared to Thor. A man is asked if he believes in various supernatural phenomena. Dr. Seward worries a madman believes himself to be God. The man states he doesn't, but he thinks he does walk with God. He also rants about not wanting souls and his salvation being dependent on getting a cat. It's feared that a man with homicidal tendencies is also a religious fanatic. A woman believes the spirit of her dead friend has passed on to her child (though this might be metaphorical).


So what did you think?

© 2014 by M.R.R.

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