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Dracula Paperback – June 20, 2011
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The first half or so of this is really fantastic and thrilling. However, once Dracula's weaknesses and abilities are explained, the story becomes less interesting, as it becomes less about trying to fight some horrible unknown monsters who can do crazy things and becomes more about trying to kill a boss in a video game, if that makes any sense. One thing that bothered me was Dracula's weakenesses. It's never explained why certain things hurt him, which wouldn't bother me, but there are just so many weird things that harm him. I get that he doesn't like crosses because he's a creature of the devil, but why doesn't he like garlic? Is garlic supposed to be holy? It seems like Stoker randomly picked things that would hurt Dracula.
The scarier and creepier parts of this are definitely the best sections of the book.
I think Dracula ended pretty abruptly, which is something that I'm noticing is a problem with a lot of classics. It just kind of ends without any sense of resolution, in my opinion.
I'm glad I read this, since I do like monsters and horror, but I was kind of underwhelmed by it. It's not bad at all, but I think I was expecting a masterpiece when it is, in fact, flawed.
The novel begins with a journey to the East with as much spooky atmosphere as the best of Edgar Allan Poe, where we meet the Count, holed up in his castle with broken battlements deep in the Carpathian Mountains. He’s ensconced in his library, reading up on London, the better to learn the best ways to find victims once he goes to the West. Once in London he meets his match in ur-vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, a polymathic Dutch doctor who counters the threat of the vampire Count by ceaselessly consulting his own books on folklore and superstition.
The drama of Dracula rests on many oppositions: east versus west, modernity versus the primitive, science versus superstition. Van Helsing and others slowly realize the threat Dracula poses and they hunt him down using a combination of folklore antidotes like garlic and crucifixes and more advanced weaponry like steamships, telegrams, and typewriters.
Count Dracula is a creepy though charming aristocrat. Unable to cross over a threshold uninvited, he must depend for his success upon cultivating the art of seduction to enter and attack his victims. Many of his victims are women and the vampire bite tends to release a voluptuous female sexuality unloosed from patriarchal restraints. Indeed, the novel plays with the topic of female sexuality in a way that’s startlingly modern for a book written in the 1890s.
The final pursuit back into the East drags on just a bit too long, adding little to the mixture of memorable scenes, characters, and ideas that make up this novel. ‘Dracula’ expertly combines the lowbrow satisfactions of a sensational monster story with the fruitful matter of a brilliant work of art. In it there is much symbolic and allegorical material to conjure up limitless theories and interpretations.