Book Reviews, Fiction

Dracula by Bram Stoker | A Discussion

Dracula is an 1897 Gothic horror novel by Irish author Bram Stoker. Famous for introducing the character of the vampire Count Dracula, the novel tells the story of Dracula’s attempt to move from Transylvania to England so he may find new blood and spread the undead curse, and the battle between Dracula and a small group of men and women led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing. Dracula has been assigned to many literary genres including vampire literature, horror fiction, the gothic novel and invasion literature. Although Stoker did not invent the vampire, he defined its modern form, and the novel has spawned numerous theatrical, film and television interpretations.

I have long said I hate scary things. Outside of a couple of exceptions in my lifetime, I avoid scary things (and will close my eyes and ears during a scary preview….why do they have to make kids creepy in horror movies?!). But Dracula is its own beast (I’m so clever). Not only because it doesn’t add in what today’s films do, but it truly shows the battle of good vs evil, even how enticing evil might seem. I love everything about this novel and really enjoyed re-reading it.

The story has such bravery and courage. Friendship and love. I think we need those books that display evil so clearly, because it reminds us of the battles out there. Although I have to admit, I have to break up this book with a light novel, otherwise my dreams get all kinds of strange. Not freaky/nightmare, but y’all, weird. I always laugh at myself when I wake up.

When people find out this is one of my all-time favorites, they ask if I’ve seen the movie. To which I answer NEVER! I refuse to taint my love of this book by watching the movie (although I am a fan of many of the actors in the film. Don’t know what I think of Mina’s casting in the 90s version though).

A few thoughts on some characters

Mina: Talk about going through the wringer! She has no idea where he soon-to-be husband is for the early part of the novel, then she finds out he’s been through hell and back, loses her best friend, finds out her best friend became a vampire, is bitten by Dracula and then is forced to drink his blood. That’ll would put me out of the game for a few months. Yet, she’s a strong woman (they couldn’t have beat the Count without her).

Lucy: Every time I think of her, I get sad. One night of sleep walking did her in. Poor Lucy, especially after she found her love. I thought the scene, right before she died, when she thanked Van Helsing for protecting Arthur was a touching last show of her love and devotion.

Jonathan: Same as Mina, he went through the wringer as well – even more so with having to live through the Count’s Castle shenanigans, then fear that he might lose Mina. I do love his bravery, devotion and love of Mina. I mean, if he were real and alive in 2017, I wouldn’t say no. 😉

Arthur: Such a brave soul as well. Imagine having to drive a stake through the undead version of the love of your life? Again, sentences I would never say in real life, but I thought Stoker did an excellent job with his development from then on out – from his commitment to go after Dracula to his weeping with Mina.

Van Helsing: Can I be as rad as him when I’m old?

Renfield: Another soul I felt so bad for.

Dr. Seward was a great character as well, although I don’t have much to say beyond that. Also, why did it have to be the Texan to die? #Hatin #RIPQuincey

Favorite quotes

One of my favorite things about Stoker is his ability to set up the scene. While we all knew what was coming, I enjoyed early on Harker’s observations before he officially met the Count:

“I could hear a lot of words often repeated, queer words, for there were many nationalities in the crowd, so I quietly got my polyglot dictionary from my bag and looked them out. I must say they were not cheering to me, for amongst them were “Ordog”–Satan, “Pokol”–hell, “stregoica”–witch, “vrolok” and “vlkoslak”–both mean the same thing, one being Slovak and the other Servian for something that is either werewolf or vampire. (Mem., I must ask the Count about these superstitions.)”

“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!” Seeing, I suppose, some expression in my face strange to him, he added, “Ah, sir, you dwellers in the city cannot enter into the feelings of the hunter.” Nah, I’m good.

Some lines, just spot on:
“In silence we returned to the library, and after a minute or two I went to my own room. The last I saw of Count Dracula was his kissing his hand to me, with a red light of triumph in his eyes, and with a smile that Judas in hell might be proud of.”

I call this “Worst Nightmare:”
“When I got almost to the top I could see the seat and the white figure, for I was now close enough to distinguish it even through the spells of shadow. There was undoubtedly something, long and black, bending over the half-reclining white figure. I called in fright, “Lucy! Lucy!” and something raised a head, and from where I was I could see a white face and red, gleaming eyes.”

This is one of my all time favorite lines of the book (from Van Helsing)

“Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all, and if it explain not, then it says there is nothing to explain.”

Have you read this Classic? Would love for you to share your thoughts, favorite characters, quotes and such!

Bookish Radness

My Top 8 All-Time Favorite Fiction Reads

Do I dare even tackle such a list? Now before you think there’s really only eight favorites on my list, I just have to say this is me we’re chatting about! But here’s a start of some novels that have held a place in my heart for at least 10 years. You know it’s solid if it’s remained on the list for at least a decade.

Mark of the Lion Series | Francine Rivers: If you ask me for a book recommendation, this will always be the first series I recommend. Looking for a biography of the 13th President? Read Mark of the Lion. Oh, you want a story about London society after 1912? I think the story of Marcus and Hadassah is just what you need. Just kidding, I’d give you a legit recommendation, but I don’t think I can put into words how amazing this series is. If I ever meet Francine Rivers, I’m just going to hug and thank her for this book. I’ve probably read it 10 times and I only see that number increasing through the years.

Just know it’s a three book series. I did not know this and when the first book ended, I texted my friend who recommended it asking why she would think to suggest a book that just RIPPED OUT MY SOUL. Yep, my reaction was equivalent to all caps plus a bag of chips and toss in some fireworks.

I own a hard copy and the kindle version so I can read it at anytime. I also read it two weeks after I read it for the first time because it’s just that amazing. If I could only have one series the rest of my life, this would be it. (I need to confess, I only read this about 5 years ago, but I’ve read it 10+ times, so I still added it to the list.)

Dracula | Bram Stoker: Vampires? Wha? Let’s just clear things up by saying it is nothing like modern day vampire shenanigans. No, this is a classic that so fantastically demonstrates battling such evil. I’m reminded that in the fight against evil, you will battle dark forces, you will lose people, you will want to quit, but you won’t. The world will be a better place because you didn’t. I haven’t read this one in a few years, but man, what a book! My e-reader friends, it’s free, so no excuses!

Redeeming Love | Francine Rivers: That sneaky, sneaky Rivers lady. Without knowing how it happens, after reading her stories, you’re forever connected to the characters she creates and wish you could meet these people in real life. Redeeming Love was also the first Christian Fiction book I read back when I was in college. I remember my friend Lindsay, from one of my Comm classes during my freshman year (folks, I never remember details, so the fact that I remember the class, the friend and the year should tell you something ;), gave me her copy to borrow and I had the chance to read it over Thanksgiving and I devoured that sucker in about two minutes flat.

Please, read this book if you haven’t yet (which I need to point out that every monthly top seller list Lifeway releases, Redeeming Love is on it. I jest not. And it’s nearly 25 years old. In May, Francine Rivers not only had her latest (which was fantastic, see my review here), but Redeeming Love as well. P.S. IT HAS IT’S OWN WIKIPEDIA PAGE. Need I say more?

The Land I Lost: Adventures of a Boy in Vietnam | Huynh Quang Nhuong: This is one of the first books I vividly remember reading. I read through it so many times, I’ve lost count. Since growing up in Vietnam was so vastly different from growing up in my parent’s house in Orange County, California, I was so fascinated by this man’s life. Every time I read this book I wanted to do one thing: Go on an epic adventure. If my mom ever asks why I’m always fixin to do something crazy, it’s because I grew up on stories like these. It was also my Mama who gave it to me 🙂

Fire By Night | Lynn Austin: Sigh….just thinking about this book makes me want to re-read it. I think I might too. It’s been a while since I’ve encountered Dr. McGrath and Julia, so I think this summer I might change that. Not only do I love Julia’s character (and connect with her), I adore Dr. McGrath. The whole series is enjoyable, but this one shines far greater than the other two. Plus it’s Civil War (and still my favorite Civil War fiction novel), so win with that.

The Giver | Lois Lowry: I’ve talked about this one the blog enough, so I’ll keep it short. Without pain, one would never know the true depth of happiness, beauty and love. Lowry so beautifully captures this. Plus it’s coming out in the movies soon!!

The Harry Potter Series | J.K. Rowling: Duh.

To Kill a Mockingbird | Harper Lee: This was one of those books I actually liked in high school and understood at the age of 16 why it was such an important piece of literature. It’s beautifully written, it’s an amazing story and Atticus Finch is one of the all-time greatest heroes in literature.

You might be wondering about the books I talk about every 27 seconds and why they aren’t on this list. Well, I figured it was a given that anything Narnia/Lewis or Middle Earth/Tolkien related are in their own category of greatest all-time anything. I mean, I have a monthly series about them internet, so of course they are my favorite of favorites. (If you want to join in The Inklings series, check it out here)

Alright, there’s the fiction list! I feel I can breathe a little easier now ;). What do you think? What are some of your favorites to add?