For the third year in a row I pulled Dracula off the shelf for R.I.P. - and this time I've actually read it!
I think it's taken so long because I'm not keen on vampire stories and I imagined pages and pages of crypts and coffins, swooping bats and fangs dripping with blood.
So it was a very pleasant surprise to find it wasn't like that all and I ended up enjoying it immensely.
The story is told in epistolary form in a series of journal and diary entries, letters , a ship's log and newspaper articles.
It begins with the journal of Jonathan Harker, a young lawyer who is travelling to Transylvania to aid Count Dracula in his purchase of an English property. His initial enthusiasm for travelling in a foreign country gives way to a growing sense of unease as the superstitious local peasants he meets try to warn him off. After a frightening final stage of his journey he is welcomed to Count Dracula's castle only to find after several sinister experiences he is a prisoner.
Jonathan's escalating fear and the suspense it builds is so well done but I was beginning to wonder how such a pace could be maintained for hundreds more pages when suddenly we leave Jonathan for.....
Letters being exchanged between Mina and Lucy. Mina is worrying about not having heard from her fiance, Jonathan, while Lucy chatters on about the three proposals of marriage she's received. It seems inconsequential at the time but is really a very clever way of introducing all the young men who will become the 'vampire hunters'.
There is also the journal of Dr Seward and his lunatic patient, Renfield.
Mina and Lucy go to Whitby - this is my favourite part of the book because it's seldom I can use memory rather than imagination for a setting but I have been to Whitby. I felt as though I was walking alongside Mina and Lucy as they climbed the many steps to the abbey, sat in the churchyard and stood on the cliffs looking over the Old Town and the harbour.
Loved the vivid description of the storm and the ship that runs aground.
Professor Van Helsing, an eminent medical man, is called in from Holland to help treat Lucy's illness. He completes the group that will band together to track down and destroy Count Dracula.
Dracula is an exciting adventure story, a battle between good and evil - it's compelling reading and, I confess, I even shed a tear at the end . For the modern reader it's also a glimpse of Victorian attitudes particularly the role of women. Well done, Bram Stoker, for creating a heroine as strong and resourceful as Wilhemina Harker!
Great reading - loved it!
The Classics Club