Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the quintessential vampire novel that all others are held against. The book follows Jonathan Harker, a solicitor, who is helping Count Dracula in his move from Transylvania to England. Not long after Harker arrives, he comes to the realisation that Dracula is a vampire who wants to spread his unholy curse to lands further afield.
Dracula eventually makes his way across to England where Harker’s fiancée, Mina, is waiting with her friend Lucy. Naturally, Dracula ends up turning Lucy into a vampire—it is a vampire novel after all—and the rest of the book plays out as the humans battle the undead menace.
Dracula is an interesting book for several reasons. Firstly, it’s written as an epistolary novel—the story is told through a series of letters, diary entries, and things like that. This was a popular form between the 17th and 19th centuries. A lot of the classic authors that are still celebrated today used this format in some of their novels: Anne Bronte, Jane Austen, and Mary Shelley, to name a few. It’s not as jarring as I first thought the format would be. It took a bit of getting used to, but once I did it was fine. However, I did struggle with how old-fashioned the language in the novel is. It was written in 1897, so I can’t blame the book for being written in the way that it is, but I struggled to get used to this. Having not read a massive amount of classic literature this was a personal struggle.
The second interesting element of Dracula is how important it is to a significant amount of modern media. The vampire myth has existed, in one form or another, since people have been telling stories. Stoker definitely didn’t invent vampires, but a large part of those myths that are still relevant were made popular by Dracula. A lot of these Stoker borrowed, including some from the 1816 short story ‘The Vampyre’ by John William Polidori, which came out of the same stormy night as Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. The rest he took from folklore. Staking vampires was a Slavic tradition long before Stoker got involved. The British were in the habit of staking those that took their own lives. Stoker did, however, create the connection between garlic and vampires. Regardless of how much of the mythology is Stoker’s creation, it’s hard to deny the sheer impact that this single book has had on modern audiences.
Overall, it’s not a book that I’d read again, but it is one that I’m glad that I read and would recommend that you read at least once in your lifetime. It’s a romantic gothic horror classic that has lasted, and it has the legacy that it has for a reason. It’s definitely worth your time.
© 2019 Davina Chime
Available under the Thanet Writers Education Policy
Davina Chime is a Thanet-born hopeless romantic.