Genre(s): Adult, Gothic Horror, Gothic Romance, The Classics.
Read It If You Like: Vampires, Epistolary Novels, Stories Set in Eastern Europe, Monster Husbands, Monster Wives, Monster Romance.
Content Warnings: Casual Sexism, Outdated Notions Around Race.
What It’s About
Bram Stoker’s DRACULA is the titular origin of modern vampire myths; an epistolary tale about a collection of wayward men, led by Van Helsing, who track down the elusive Count Dracula to stake him in the heart.
For anyone who’s ever wanted a full DRACULA book summary:
At the beginning of the novel, a London solicitor named Jonathan Harker arrives at the Count’s Transylvania castle, to help him sort out his legal affairs. While there, Jonathan leans that he’s been lured to the castle under false pretenses, and that the Count is a vampire, determined to feast on his blood.
He ends up trapped.
Once Jonathan is imprisoned, Dracula flees his remote castle to England, leaving a string of vampiric women and dead men in his wake. When Jonathan eventually escapes, it becomes a race against time as he, Van Helsing, Jonathan’s wife Mina, and a collection of rich, surly men attempt to track down and kill “the beast.”
Written in epistolary style as a collection of letters, DRACULA weaves together a sense of atmosphere and an irresistible hook. Despite being a “classic” novel that has aged poorly in its depictions of women and eastern Europe, I still find enjoyment in it due to its gothic sensibilities and conceptual appeal.
As always, Lucy is a queen, and I would love to read a DRACULA retelling from her POV. The subtext of the whole vampire hunt and why these men are hunting the Count is actually kind of hilarious, in a morbid way. Metamashina covered the DRACULA novel in-depth on the podcast, and I would definitely recommend listening to the episode if you have time.
Overall: DRACULA is far from perfect, but it has a great core idea. Its reputation as part of the gothic “canon” personally allowed me to derive meaning from it that perhaps I otherwise wouldn’t have.
Would I Recommend This Book to Others?
Yes, especially if you’re interested in gothic literature. Although it’s showing its age and is a product of its time, it’s still interesting from a historical genre perspective.