I’ve read Twilight, some of the Sookie Stackhouse novels, and a few other vampire novels, but the student in me wanted to know where this all came from. In school, my emphasis was on mediaeval source texts and how stories changed over the years. So, naturally, I had to read the original vampire novel: Dracula. Today, in honor of the release of the DVD version of Eclipse (Team Switzerland!), I offer you my vampire review.
And wow, if you haven’t read Dracula, you are depriving yourself of some crazy creative and creepy writing. The format of the novel is a little tough to figure out at first, but once you get into the story, it is difficult to put it down, even with the slower pacing (which is very common for novels in the late 1800’s). Bram Stoker knew how to make and maintain suspense, and his vampire is terrifying!
The format is an epistolary novel, meaning that each chapter is composed of journal entries, letters, telegrams, and newspaper clippings. However, the dialogue is masterfully maintained throughout, because the characters are (conveniently) able to recall in amazing detail all the conversations they have in a day (which, if they could, and they were writing by hand, they must have written for HOURS every night!).
Jonathan Harker is a junior laywer, engaged to be married to Mina, who has been a companion for the lovely young Lucy. Harker is sent to Transylvania to meet with Count Dracula and to teach him about English culture and life, as the Count plans on moving to London. While there, however, Harker realizes that Dracula is a fiend of the worst kind, and Harker escapes the castle and makes his way back to England alone.
Dracula continues with his plans to move to London, and organizes his own passage on a ship, which, according to the captain’s log, sails through a terrifying journey where, at the last, all the crew are dead. The ship runs aground in a fierce storm on the shores of Whitby, where, as chance may have it, Mina and Lucy are staying. Lucy is proposed to by three men, Dr. Seward, Morris, and Holmwood, and she accepts Holmwood (who later in the novel inherits the title Lord Godalming). Oddly (but helpful in this novel), all three of Lucy’s suitors remain good friends.
In the days following the shipwreck, Lucy begins sleepwalking outside and becomes strangely ill. Mina fears to tell Lucy’s mother, who is in poor health, but she wonders about the puncture wounds on Lucy’s throat, so she calls on Dr. Seward. Seward is at a loss, and sends for his professor, Dr. Van Helsing. Despite the best efforts of Mina, Van Helsing and all three of her suitors, Lucy “dies”, but soon begins preying on small children as a beautiful vampire herself. Van Helsing tells the men that they must stake her and cut off her head. If you feel like delving into a really bizarre world, do some research on Lucy the Vampire’s death scene — it’s chilling what some literary scholars have come up with!
Meanwhile, Harker returns to England and marries Mina and they join with the others in hunting down Dracula in the streets of London. When Dracula realizes that he is found out, he begins feinting about their defenses and eventually gets to Mina in a super-creepy way: crawling through her window, taking her out of her bed and biting her. From then on, Mina is under his spell, and feels pulled to join him as his bride. This guy is no Edward Cullen. He’s every girl’s worst nightmare. Eventually, the brave men are triumphant and Mina is set free from Dracula’s enchantment, but not after several chapters of suspense and excitement.
I was really impressed by the scope and entertainment this novel has to offer, but especially how this vampire was SO different from the modern vampire stories I’ve enjoyed. There wasn’t a single time in Dracula where I felt bad for the Count or had any sympathy or compassion for him. He is evil, through and through. The good guys were very very good, and the bad guy was very very bad, and the entertainment value of this novel was very very awesome.
Now it’s your turn: what was the last vampire novel/movie you watched and what did you think?
Evanescence – Bring Me To Life
I’m having a hard time understanding the “Dead” phenomenon. Southern writer Charlaine Harris has created an intensely vivid world where vampires are “out of the coffin” and walking the world, trying (or often not trying) to fit in with mainstream society. Sookie Stackhouse, a mind-reading waitress in a rural Louisiana bar, has an interesting life already (you know, because of the mind-reading thing), but becoming the girlfriend of the new vampire in town (a Southern gentleman named Bill) gives her life a whole new complexity. My friend Diane gave me this boxed set of the novels the last week we were in California and I couldn’t wait to dig into them. And not just because a few of my other fellow Twilighers were obsessing over the HBO version of the novels (“True Blood”).
However, I really can’t, in all honesty, recommend these novels. If you’ve seen this commercial for the DVD release of Season 2, it pretty much sums up my review.
I’ve honestly felt like I needed to scrub my brain out with bleach after each book. And that’s not to say that the stories aren’t entertaining. They are. But the stuff that happens to and around the main characters is just too crazy for my taste! For instance, the second novel’s climax features Sookie and Bill’s boss (also a vampire) at an orgy. That’s bad enough without all the graphic description that goes along with it. Sookie is constantly getting beat up, bitten, captured, used, and basically tossed around. You want to root for her, but after a while, you just want to say “get away from the crazy vampires! You’re gonna die!!”
So, sorry to my pals who love the series, I just won’t be finishing it. And sorry to my pals who want to read it… there just isn’t enough good to make it worth all the filth.