In my quest (though not a very diligent one) to read all things vampire, I figured that I should probably start at the beginning, and read Bram Stoker’s vampire classic. Thankfully, I had the encouragement of the RIP III challenge (and everyone telling me to be excited) to get me off my lazy butt and actually read it. And… well… WOW.
I’m sure everyone’s heard of Dracula — he’s a part of our culture in a way that I don’t think Stoker expected him to become. And vampires, too, especially these days; between Buffy and Twilight they’ve become hip. But, I didn’t know — and I’m not sure how many people who haven’t read the book do — the whole story, the whole mythos. And I found all that fascinating, from the various devices to keep the vampires at bay, to the methods Dracula took not only to access his victims, but to just get around. It was interesting stuff. Even the plot of the book, while a bit simplistic for my taste, still managed to keep things moving enough to hold my interest. I wasn’t expecting that, either.
But what really made the book fabulous (well, as fabulous as a gothic horror tale can be) for me was the mood. Stoker is amazing at setting mood. He has a way with words that just captivated me. The tension and suspense were palpable. I got about 150 pages from the end, at 10 p.m., and realized I’d either have to stop or push through to the end; I was that freaked out by what was going on. There were many occasions, right from the first, when I had to put down the book and walk away because the mood was so intense. Actually, while reading this, I was reminded of why I went on an Edgar Allen Poe kick in 8th grade. We had read The Tell-tale Heart in English class, and I was blown away. Not by the plot, or even by the characters (the ones in Dracula didn’t really do anything for me, either), but because of the mood. While I don’t like to be grossed out (hence my shying away from Stephen King), I don’t mind the occasional fright. And Dracula hit that right on the spot.
Terrific. Creepy, terrifying, and absolutely terrific.