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Dracula by Bram Stoker
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
An amazingly interesting book about a subject and demonic personage that many people would tell you they know all about, although on questioning would have to admit that they had never bothered to read the whole book.
I would not call it a “horror” genre book simply because it doesn’t leave you with a feeling of horror, so much as a feeling of suspense, dread, and intrigue about what is going to actually happen next as the plot unfolds in a whole series of letters, diary entries and professional papers written in essentially chronological order by the victims, their lovers or spouses, and clinical psychologists of the 19th century.
The constant perspective of shifting the commentary from the viewpoint of the innocent victims detailing their nighttime encounters through a dreamy haze followed by the clinical observations of the signs and symptoms as seen by the doctors or friends of the afflicted person(s) gives the story a wholeness that grows into a complete picture that could never be fully depicted on the screen or by a group of actors.
I was continually impressed by the author’s depiction of the toughness, intelligence, fortitude, and persistance of the heroine and paramount victim of the story, Mina, wife of the real estate agent, Harker, who initially visits Dracula’s castle and begins to discover some of the underlying terrors that the Count holds and may bring with him in his impending move to an estate outside London. Mina is the one who loses her dear friend Lucy to the world of the undead and who then finds the she must continue to consort with the ephemeral vampire at night even while she knows that she is changing slowly into one of his kind.
This is a book that can hold you in its spell even after you have put it down for the night, as your mind sorts out all of the myriad details given by: Harker’s recounting of the rural Romanian peasants superstitions, the retelling of the terrible voyage to England by the sole survivor of the ship carrying the Count and his many coffins, and the crazed rantings of the zoophageous Renfield who becomes the Count’s means of entering the house wherein Mina is being kept safe through the power of the crucifix, the dust of holy wafers and garlands of garlic flowers.
The ending of the book brings to light the hiding places of Dracula’s coffins through precise detective work. Then the holy powers of the host and cross combined with the hypnotism of Mina to reveal the Count’s location, chase the demon out of England and send him fleeing towards the safety of his castle. The chase at the end should be followed by readers on their maps to gain some understanding of the remoteness that can still be found in the rivers and mountains of Romania where Castle Dracula stands and the Count is intercepted and destroyed.
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