This is one of the stories that I’ve consumed in almost every form except for its original literary source: from The Lost Boys to Coppola’s lush adaptation to World of Darkness’s Masquerade, great swaths of my youth were occupied by tales of both fantasy and horror surrounding the descendants of Stoker’s creation. I even spent two of my teenage years wearing long, black coats and custom-crafted fangs made of dental material, real-life roleplaying a child of the night.
Last year I completed a playthrough of Dontnod’s Vampyr video game, a wonderful experience once through the punishing and unforgiving combat.
I don’t know why I chose to read the book. The fall school semester was about to start, and I have thousands of pages to get through in my “must read” list. It was free as part of the Amazon Classics library for Kindle, so started it instead of digging further into Robert W. Chambers’s The King in Yellow, a book I actually have to read as part of my short story project for this term.
I’m glad that I did, though. It had been a while since I’d read any gothic literature, and there’s no question in my mind that Dracula is a masterpiece. Stoker spent some seven years on research and writing, after failing with short stories, and the work shows. Halfway through the book I watched Tod Browning’s Dracula film from 1931, the one starring Bela Lugosi. I’d never seen that one either and I found the adaptation almost comical. It’s a Cliff’s Notes version that makes so many significant changes to the source material I could hardly believe what I was watching. The book, however, is so beautifully nuanced. What stood out to me the most was how Stoker wrote the way in which Van Helsing convinced the others of the existence of vampires. He handles it in such a rational way, and scenes where he makes his demonstrations are immaculate.
I highly recommend this book for its vibrant characterizations and the way it handles the mythmaking of a monster. I would love to do a full reading of the text for YouTube and may someday take up that project.