Dracula by Bram Stoker

Title: Dracula
Author: Bram Stoker
Genre: Classics / horror

Rating: 2.5 / 5

Goodreads | Powell’s

Dracula had a very promising beginning. When I first picked it up it seemed a bit dry but soon it had me quickly turning pages. I loved the slow mystery and the way all the mythology and superstitions were spun. I liked that it seemed like actual people’s journals—nothing very sensational at first, just noting things down, as you would. It was really entertaining and fun at first.

Unfortunately it couldn’t keep it up; near the end (maybe the last third?), it got to seem very repetitive and dragged a bit. All the monologuing from Van Helsing seemed quite unnecessary, and so much of what was going on could have been condensed. There was constant handwringing about the same thing, which I get, but it didn’t make for very compelling reading (to me). I think if 50-75 pages had been cut out, the book would’ve been about perfect. Of course there’s tons of “benevolent sexism,” which made me roll my eyes but didn’t really lower my enjoyment.

The version I read had a section at the end entitled “Criticism” that contained a fair amount of essays about gender, sexuality, homoeroticism, historical contexts, colonialism… Someone who had the book before me had highlighted quite a few passages in each and I read their highlighted bits, which I found fascinating.

Overall I wish it had been more concise in its telling, and that the tension had been played up a bit more. This has been described as a gothic novel, and while there was definitely a large, decrepit building (several in fact), innocent young maidens, heroes, an evil supernatural villain, fear, and other “gothic” elements, it felt like something was missing. The tension and the horror, the “vertiginous plunging,” they weren’t really there for me, or they were but only fleetingly, with many missed opportunities. It didn’t feel very…“psychological”? But then again, I am not and never have been frightened of vampires; I just don’t find them scary—unlike Peter, who would want me to erase this sentence lest I invite trouble from those bloodsuckers 😉 In any case, I’m not sorry I read it though I don’t think I would have been missing much if I’d skipped it.

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