I don't like Halloween. I don't like scary stories, I think leaves that fall of the tree are super annoying (try cleaning them up) and it rains - a lot. However, to get into the spirit of Halloween (and to justify my obsession with Pumpkin Spice Latte) I wanted to read a Halloween book this year and started with what perhaps is the most traditional of all: Dracula by Bram Stoker. As this is also a classic, I'll use the Classics Challenge questions to discuss everything that you need to know about Dracula! As always, this challenge is created by the wonderful Pretty Books.
WHEN I DISCOVERED THIS CLASSIC + WHY I CHOSE TO READ IT
Again, this is one of those classics that I always knew. I mean, vampires are everywhere in popular culture and pretty early on, I discovered it all started with one named Dracula. Did I realise it was a book instead of a movie? Not for years, but once I did, it definitely became a book that I was dying to read.
WHAT MAKES IT A CLASSIC
Dracula. The fact that Bram Stoker was one of the first to put down on paper what we consider today as the stereotypical vampire is what makes this book a classic. We are still fascinated by the idea of vampires and so much credit is due to this book and the rich world of fantasy that it created.
WHAT I THOUGHT OF THIS CLASSIC
There's no denying the impact this classic has had on the literary world and how it has influenced so many other stories - with no genre, besides horror, as indebted to this book as YA. I can definitely appreciate the sheer genius creativity of Bram Stoker. Though it might now read as something overdone, to imagine that he was one of the first to put down the idea of the vampire on paper is amazing. When considering that this is the same timeframe as The Curious Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, it is clear to see how much appeal this story must have had to contemporaries and yet still fascinates us today. This is writing at its best; to appeal to a wide audience for a long range of time.
However, I wasn't absolutely crazy about it. I found that the plot was excellent and build up in a way that is still exciting for readers today - even if you might already know how it ends. I enjoyed the use of newspaper clippings and diary entries from several characters as a way to tell the story, but I just wasn't invested enough. I felt at times, certain story lines drew on too long. I get the idea of showing the effect of Dracula on different people, but having so many characters, each with their own unique voice, made it hard to relate to one single character. This is a personal preference, but when I can't relate with one character, I start to lose interest in the story.
This is what happened with Dracula - I loved the idea of it way more than the story and kinda wish the plot was simpler, even though Bram Stoker's amazing writing means he was able to execute it excellently. It was just too much for me.
WILL IT STAY A CLASSIC
Dracula is a tricky one for this question. On the one hand, it has had such an influence on our culture that it's hard to imagine that it won't be a classic. On the other hand, those other cultural products (books, films, musicals,...) have had such an impact on our society that the original Dracula story tends to fade a little bit. I can see that it's being used by many modern creative people, but if they really appreciate the story on their own, without the context? I'm not so sure. I think the topic of Dracula will always remain a classic, but in my opinion, Bram Stoker's storytelling won't be.
WHO I’D RECOMMEND IT TO
This is a Halloween book, so you need to be able to handle creepy stuff. This is not scary as modern day horror movies are, but it will definitely get under your skin and give you a mini heart attack every time you hear something beat on your window. Added to that, the book also drags on a little bit in my opinion so I'd suggest it to someone who loves well-drawn plots and attention to small details.