See? I told you that I would make the Dark Prince mine once and for all. Electronically, that is. One of the first truly squeelicious moments I had with my Kindle was when I discovered that Bram Stoker’s Dracula was part of Amazon’s free library. I already own a printed copy, but I decided that one can never own too many copies of a horror classic, especially when the cost is non-existent.
It seems a bit trite for me to review this novel, since I’m willing to bet that there are very few people who are not aware of the Dracula legend. In fact, that was one of the things that I found myself regretting as I re-read this novel: I regret that I was never able to experience this story from a fresh perspective, without the baggage of the myriad popular culture translations, references, revisions, and blatant butchery of the vampire mythology as introduced by Stoker.
Anyone who is a horror fan knows that Stoker’s tale is one of the cornerstones of the genre. You cannot be even a passing fan without knowing something about our favorite Transylvanian acupuncturist. But what must it have been like to have experienced this novel for the very first time? Truly the first time, rather than how most of us have experienced it: through the lens of predetermined knowledge forged by Bela, Buffy, Barnabus, Blacula, Blade, Louis and Lestat (couldn’t go on forever with Bs, could I?), Selene, Vampire Hunter D, and the sugary sickness imposed upon the mythology by She Who Does Not Deserve Naming Alongside Stoker?
Actually, now that I think about it, it’s for all these reasons that we should revisit the original. Or, better yet, visit it for the first time. After all, how many Dracula fans have never actually read the original novel? I daresay there are quite a few, which is admittedly their loss. There has yet to be a definitive cinematic interpretation of the original Stoker tale, and this most assuredly includes Francis Ford Coppola’s attempt back in 1992.
[Loba Tangent: I recently re-watched this movie (realizing as I did that I have not watched it in its entirety since its original VHS release). First, I was depressed to realize that this movie was released 20 years ago this year. Second, I was even more depressed to realize that time has severely blurred my memory of what I saw 20 years ago. In my re-watching, I came to the conclusion that this movie is actually quite terrible for many reasons, including an offensive reinterpretation of the relationship between Mina and Dracula, more of which I shall discuss…later.]
If you have never read Stoker’s novel, I implore you to do so. Try your best to forget all that you have seen and instead allow yourself to embrace the darkness of Dracula’s true literary form. It is not the quickly paced sensory overload that Hollywood has turned it into. It is also decidedly not a love story. Not the kind that TPTB would have you believe, anyway. Instead, it is a slow boil of terror and triumph, told from multiple perspectives, giving you a full and unsettling view of events that will transport you from Transylvania to England and back (with multiple disturbing stops along the way). I can only imagine the response of those reading this novel upon its original 1897 release. It must have been scandalous for its shocking depictions and descriptions. Even now, more than 100 years later, it’s still deliciously unsettling. Go ahead, take a taste…
Final Verdict: I’ve got my print copy stored with the rest of my horror classics, and now I’ve got my electronic copy saved on my Kindle. I will say this, though: While reading this electronic copy of the novel, I came across several typographical errors, which brought to mind another possible reason for my hang-up with the concept of e-Readers. I have a strong feeling (at least with the free copies of books) that a lot of these digital conversions do not go through the same level of editing that printed books go through. There isn’t the same level of quality control, and I find that highly distracting. Why? I’m a editr. That’z wye.