I usually advocate for reading classics. Most classics are classics for good reason (though I will admit, I wonder about some of them). Some of my favorite stories are classics. But when it comes to Dracula by Bram Stoker, I’m a bit torn about recommending it.
Dracula is a classic for reason. Mainly for the portrayal of vampires and how it influenced vampire lore. The vampires in this novel are iconic. They are the kind of vampires I wish more stories would return to. I’m tired of sparkly vampires or vampires that don’t stalk the night to drink blood. I’m tired of romanticizing vampires as love interests. I want the vampires of Dracula with their red eyes and blood-bloated faces. I want vampires that sleep in coffins during the day and turn into bats in the night. I want vampires with aversions to garlic and sunlight and all things deemed “holy.” I want vampires to be monsters.
The novel of Dracula, however, is kind of boring. The story is told from a compilation of diary entries, letters, telegrams, and news reports. It’s a lot of telling, not showing. It’s a lot of opinions and dialogue and not a lot of action. The parts that are action-y can be exciting, but for someone who has grown up in a world where action movies reign as king in movie theaters and books are filled to the brim with kick-butt moments, it was hard to enjoy Dracula.
It takes the characters a long time to figure out what is going on. (Or in the case of Van Helsing to tell someone what he suspects is happening. Come on, dude!) It wasn’t until chapter 15 where they finally use the world “un-dead” to describe Dracula. Fifteen chapters! I also found most of the characters to be irritating. They make a lot of poor decisions and they do almost nothing to prevent Dracula from attacking. I wanted to grab them by the shoulders and give them a good shake. I mean, if a vampire is attacking you or someone you love, why would you stay?? Leave the city! Leave the country! But for goodness sake don’t leave someone alone and vulnerable while you go vampire hunting! Sheesh.
There were a lot of scenes and chapters that felt unnecessary and dragged out the story. A lot of the book could have been resolved a lot sooner, I think. But the ending was exciting, even if parts of it felt too easy.
Overall, I wasn’t impressed with Dracula. I enjoyed reading Frankenstein and Phantom of the Opera several years ago, but Dracula didn’t hold my level of interest and it was often a chore to read. The only parts I did like were in regards to the portrayal of vampires.
Do I regret reading it? Not at all. As I said earlier, I advocate for reading classics, and I’m glad I read it, even if it’s just to say “Hey, I read that book.” (Like I did with Les Mis last year.) It was an enlightening experience to read because I could see where a lot of vampire lore spawned from, but I think I much prefer watching Nosferatu than reading Dracula.