There’s something more chilling in reading a novel written in epistolary format, especially when the journal entries and newspaper clippings used in the storytelling pertain to strange events and even stranger creatures.
I’ve never read Bram Stoker’s Dracula before. It didn’t occur to my younger self that I would greatly enjoy this genre-defining, classic work of gothic horror fiction. I think, perhaps, that Sesame Street’s Count Dracula was to blame—-how can you take a supposedly frightening fictional character seriously if he’s singing and dancing?
And so I would go on and remain unfamiliar with the King-Vampire until I saw the film that shows the handsome Gary Oldman bending to kiss the throat of Winona Ryder. But because I hadn’t read the book, my appreciation ended with the showing of the film credits. And Bram Stoker will forever be unknown, it seemed, until I did a review of I Am Legend, which I know to be the second best vampire novel since Dracula.
Why not read the first best?
I wouldn’t say that every page of this novel is full of action and suspense. It is slow in some parts, but they never bored me. Bram Stoker was a gifted and sincere writer. Not a word was wasted on useless meaning. The narration of each character and their roles in the lives of those they guard are as interesting as the elusive vampire himself.
My favorite parts apart from the actual vampire hunting scenes include Lucy’s story and her frequent blood transfusion operations and of course, Mina’s determination and mission. I was a bit impatient with the subplot of Renfield, but his strangeness and lunacy just added more to the madness that the main characters tried to control.
The originality of Bram Stoker’s novel makes it a compelling read. That he wrote it tightly and in that Victorian language that I have grown to love also makes this one a classic.