It starts out quite simply enough – you hear of a man who was made to go to an obscure castle in an obscure land. He seems excited and quite jolly, all the while fondly remembering his lovely bride-to-be. A few letters later, however, he relates of the people whispering about an “evil one” and how they seem to pity him for his choice of destination.
For he is off to the castle of Dracula. Dracula, an unseen, unheard being, whose terrible ubiquity has brought fear into the hearts of the people — as it may to yours as well.
If you’ve read modern vampire stories before reading this one (especially romance-related ones), prepare to set your expectations regarding them aside. Dracula will remind you of the “true original”, and make you remember the beast behind the fangs.
This story, while relating of horrific events, did not strike me as utterly “scary”. There are intelligent (not to mention valiant) men in this picture, and they help bring reason (and courage!) to such a superstitious story. Oh, and there’s the lovely Mina too – she seems to me the epitome of what a woman/wife should be 🙂
The story-telling here is via letters, news clippings, transcripts, etc, and I find it very interesting that, as the story progresses, we find out why and how the book came to being. (Well, sort of.)
The people whose words helped shape this story are, in their own little ways, unique – and utterly human. How devastating it was to hear of poor Lucy’s belabored breaths. How surprising it was to see Abraham Van Helsing allow himself moments of weakness. How romantic it was that Lord Goddaming did what he had to do to set her free. It was really quite amazing how these people persevered in attempting to destroy the evil that has plagued such land.
Still, while these souls were brave enough to attempt silencing the evil spirit, they were also lost, scared and faltered every now & then. I loved that they were very real to me. (It helps that we get snippets from their own respective diaries!) I even liked how Van Helsing remarked of Dracula that… [he was somewhat like a child, and although he was known to be incredibly smart while he was still walking the earth as a living man, his wisdom had not yet then fully developed.] (highlight for spoilers) Even a dark lord here has a twinge of reality in him!
There is indeed talk of “devils” and that of “holy”. It doesn’t exactly mean that this is religious (although there is constant reference to “His guiding power” or “His blessing”), but it did help in propagating the vileness of an “unclean spirit”.
One point rather annoyed me, however: [Why did they stay in the Seward’s house when they knew that Dracula had ready access to his dwelling? Couldn’t they have thought of what it could mean for poor Mina?] (highlight for spoilers)
Overall, it was an exciting read, especially with its creeps, fog and trickles of blood. It really left me quite breathless. There’s a note of joy to be found in the ending pages, by the way, but I had wondered whether Dracula might still actually out there somehow… Biding his time until he finds his next dark abode.