Quick summary and verdict
Immortal Bram Stoker’s Dracula is the story of Count Dracula, an old vampire who decided to travel across the sea to Victorian England to conquer new lands and souls. Jonathan Harker, an English solicitor is sent to deal with the Count, and through his diary entries and letters to his fiancé Mina the reader will be invited to the darkness of Dracula’s castle.
Will Jonathan survive?
Dracula is a gothic horror masterpiece that will embrace readers in its darkness. Shivers are guaranteed.
Young British lawyer Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania to negotiate on behalf of a London law firm with a count who is interested in acquiring property in England. From the moment he arrives, Harker is filled with an unpleasant feeling, something is just not working.
Before the journey to the count’s castle, the mistress of an inn in the Carpathian Mountains warns him insistently to be careful, but without explaining why. Accompanied by the howling of wolves, Harker arrives in a carriage at the ruined castle in the middle of the night.
The elderly gentleman standing in the doorway, whose pale skin contrasts with his black robes, is the master of the house himself, Count Dracula. Despite his gracious welcome, Harker does not like him. In the days that follow, as he goes over the details of the house purchase with Dracula, Harker notices strange things.
Count’s image does not seem to be reflected in the mirror; the Count becomes enraged when he sees drops of blood; and, apparently, he lives without servants. On one occasion, Harker sees him walking like a spider on the outer wall of the castle. His fear grows ever greater.
The story and narrative are told from Jonathan’s perspective and fears but soon we will discover new characters, also the views and dark goals of the Count itself.
“I am Dracula and I welcome you to my home, Mr. Harker. Come in, the night air is chilly, and surely you need something to eat and rest”.
From that moment on, the novel revolves around the relationship between Jonathan and Mina through the lawyer’s diaries in which he casts his suspicions on the Count and fears for his fate.
One of the coldest nights three seductive and mysterious women appear in Harker’s room and approach his throat with sharp teeth. Then Dracula appears and stops them from sending them away.
Harker realizes that the castle is a prison where he could not escape. As Dracula prepares his departure for London, Harker apparently must not leave the ruined walls alive. Shortly before the Count’s departure, Harker discovers him in the chapel resting in a coffin. Horrified, he flees to his room.
Harker is left alone in the castle and desperately hatches plans to escape from the ghastly vampires.
In the other side of the sea, Lucy Westenra writes to her London friend Mina Murray from the port town of Whitby and tells her that within a day, she has received three marriage proposals. Mina visits her friend in Whitby to advise her and realizes that she is sleepwalking.
Two weeks after Mina’s arrival, a storm hits the small town at night. Three days after the storm, Lucy sleepwalks again and arrives at the local cemetery. When Mina finds her there, she sees a pale, red-eyed figure leaning over Lucy, who is unconscious.
Over the next few days, Lucy grows paler and weaker. She also has a strange wound on her neck that looks like two needle pricks.
Mina has also been worried because she has not received any correspondence from her fiancé, Jonathan Harker, for a long time. Finally, she receives news: Harker is in a Budapest hospital and has been recovering there from a severe nervous fever.
Mina travels to see him and they get married in the hospital. Harker gives her his notes; he is still not sure whether the events he recorded in his notebook were the product of fantasy or he really experienced it. In the meantime, Lucy’s condition continues to worsen. Her new fiancé, Arthur Holmwood, asks his friend Dr. Seward for advice. Dr. Seward, in turn, turns to Van Helsing, a former professor of his.
Van Helsing is very concerned about Lucy’s pallor and sore throat. However, he does not communicate his guesses to his patient or to Dr. Seward. At night, a bat regularly knocks on Lucy’s window; in the morning, she complains of frightening but unclear dreams. The professor fears something supernatural is threatening Lucy.
Van Helsing and Dr. Seward donate blood to the weakened Lucy. When she asks her beloved for one last kiss, she discovers her sharp teeth, and Van Helsing energetically steps in. He won’t say why.
Mina returns to London with Jonathan Harker. There she learns with horror of Lucy’s death. Mina, deeply moved, read Jonathan’s Transylvanian notes trying to find an explanation.
Shortly afterward, she is visited by Van Helsing, who wants to talk to her about Lucy. The professor confirms that Harker’s report did not come from a fever dream but corresponds to the truth.
Van Helsing is alarmed when he reads some newspaper articles about children disappearing at night and returning home later with sore throats. He carefully tries to prepare Dr. Seward for the unbelievable: that Lucy prowls around at night as the living dead and inflicts wounds on the children. The two men spend the next night at the cemetery. They open Lucy’s coffin: it is empty.
When they return the next day, they find the corpse again. Van Helsing explains to the astonished doctor that Lucy was killed by a vampire and has now become a vampire herself. To release her from the spell, she must be ritually killed… a second time.
The next day, Van Helsing and the doctor meet with Holmwood and Morris, who are horrified by the doctor’s plans. Nevertheless, the four go to the cemetery at night and catch Lucy in flagrante delicto: she is beginning to drink the blood of a child.
After killing her the four men vow not to rest until they have caught Count Dracula and for that they will need Jonathan and Mina’s help.
All participants in the unusual group share their diaries and notes with each other led by Van Helsing. At the end of the session, Van Helsing decrees, with the consent of the men, that – despite her world-praised insight – Mina be excluded from future deliberations and acts, for the protection of her soul.
After, when the group was in a meeting deciding the next steps to stop Dracula they went back to the Harkers’ house and found Dracula in Mina’s room: the vampire has the young woman’s head pressed against his chest and forces her to drink his blood.
With a crucifix, Van Helsing manages to drive the vampire out, but his blood can act in Mina’s body as a latent poison and bring her under the Count’s influence. For her part, she is determined to take her own life if she must lose her soul to the vampire.
She painfully realizes that she is already marked when Van Helsing tries to protect her with a host that burns her forehead like a hot iron.
The Count manages to escape with a mocking laugh and the men return home. The next morning, the fateful exchange of blood between Mina and Dracula has a positive side effect: under hypnosis, the young woman can establish a link to the Count’s whereabouts.
Her vague impressions lead to the conclusion that the vampire has embarked again and is travelling protected by his last box.
On the next day, the men find out which ship set sail for the Black Sea and where it will moor. They plan to head for the mainland and seal Dracula’s box from the outside with a bunch of wild roses before the Count can leave.
Mina will travel with them, as under the effects of hypnosis, she can be useful in locating the vampire.
The travelers arrive a few days before the ship in Varna, but, surprisingly, the ship arrives at a different port. When Mina and the men catch up, there is no trace of Dracula.
The pursuers assume that the Count wants to return to his castle first. The pursuers separate. Harker and Holmwood follow Dracula upriver in a steamboat, while Dr. Seward and Morris follow him overland. Finally, Van Helsing and Mina head straight for the castle, by the old route Jonathan took.
The closer Mina gets to the castle, the more unpredictable she becomes and the less successful the hypnosis proves to be.
With the castle in sight as night falls, only with the help of a circle of wafer crumbs can Van Helsing prevent the three female vampires that Harker stumbled upon earlier from pouncing on the travelers.
The next morning, Van Helsing leaves the exhausted Mina under the protection of the circle and goes alone to the castle. In the chapel, he finds the three coffins with the living dead. He resists their seductive sight and drives the deadly saving stake through their hearts.
Then, with the help of another host, he disables Dracula’s own coffin. He hurries back to Mina; the two seek protection from the onset of snowfall in a cave.
A fight ensues. Dracula’s box falls from the cart. As the sun sets, Harker and Morris hastily open the coffin. Suddenly, Dracula rises with glowing eyes, but Morris and Harker’s knives strike him in the throat and heart.
He immediately disintegrates into dust. With Dracula’s death, the mark on Mina’s forehead has also disappeared.
The tone of the book
Despite the length of the book and the date of its writing, Dracula is an easy, pleasant and enjoyable read from start to finish.
Some readers find it difficult with the epistolary structure of the novel in which we find a large number of diaries and letters, but for the great majority, this is an added quality and a personal mark of the author and the novel, which makes it unique.
At the time, some readers found the novel tremendously terrifying and were frightened to read it. Today, it remains an unparalleled example of classic horror that continues to thrill readers around the world.
What do readers say about Bram Stoker’s Dracula?
Thousands of readers consider Dracula to be one of the greatest novels of all time. Hundreds of thousands of reviews rate Dracula on a scale of 4.5/5 and 9.1/10 so we can consider that there is general agreement: Dracula is a timeless masterpiece. However, some readers still consider the novel to be too scary or bold because of its latent sexual content.
Jonathan is not hero material
Jonathan is a character who dares to undertake a complicated journey in order to make a good impression at work and improve his career as a lawyer. However, when trouble starts at Dracula’s castle, he proves to be frightened and unable to show himself as a match for the Count. Thanks to the appearance of Van Helsing, Dracula’s true nemesis, he succeeds in taking down the vampire, aided by the rest of the group.
Dracula is still frightening
Count Dracula remains one of the most terrifying characters in the world of literature and on the big screen. In Stoker’s novel, he is shown as evil, dark, and almost impossible to stop being and has all the ingredients to populate the nightmares of anyone who dares to face him. In the novel, we see his evolution from a polite count to a dangerous vampire.
Horror, sex, and adventures at the gates of a new century
The book deals with a number of issues in an overtly explicit way in a historical context that was perhaps not prepared for it. After a 19th century still somewhat centered on puritanism and fear of certain themes and topics, Stoker dared with courageous prose to deal with themes such as horror, violence, and sex in an intelligent and unusual way, ahead of his time.
The narration of the audiobook scores 4.5/5 on Audible and it lasts for 15 hours and 27 minutes.
The production perfectly matches the novel’s atmosphere and introduces some awarded voices as Emmy Award nominees Alan Cumming and Tim Curry performing Dr. Seward and Professor Van Helsing. Voices are deep and powerful when needed and background sounds are terrifying as should, especially in Dracula’s castle scenes.
Is, without a doubt, a good complement to the reading of the novel, both for those readers who have already ventured into its pages and for those who decide to start by listening to the story.
What type of reader would enjoy this book?
Dracula may not be a book suitable for all audiences, both because of its age and the complexity of its structure. The level of the narrative has a cultured component, although it reads quickly and at a high pace.
Despite this, it is a book that allows the reader to enjoy it from the first page in an addictive way.
It is a classic masterpiece that should be in every library, it will never be a mistake to have it.
Should I read Dracula?
- The book that established the figure of the vampire in literature
- Addictive, enjoyable, and mysterious until the end
- A real masterpiece
- Complex structure for some readers
- Scary in some points
If you still don’t know one of the great masterpieces of literature, maybe it’s time you decided to enter Count Dracula’s castle. In it, you will discover a whole world of darkness, and uncertainty and also of adventures and magical lands together with a Victorian England full of mystery.
Prepare to embark on a story you will remember forever.