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Young Solicitor Jonathan Harker is called to an assignment in Transylvania – but what he encounters there in an isolated and creepy old castle sends terror through his veins.  Meanwhile back in England, Mina, his wife to be corresponds with her friend Lucy Westernra, who is looking forward to getting married.  But a strange illness seems to afflict Lucy, almost as if her blood is draining away from her body, leaving her weaker and weaker.  And in a seemingly unrelated matter, John Seward, who runs an asylum for the mentally ill, is concerned about the increasingly erratic and irrational behaviour of one of his patients.

When Dr Van Helsing is summoned from Amsterdam – primarily for help in curing Lucy – he seems to know exactly what the problem is…but he knows that solving it will take him and his companions to the very edge of terror and pain…

The story of Dracula is so famous and such a classic that it was something of a surprise to me that I had managed to go for so long having never read the book.  I eagerly picked it up, expecting it to be a fabulous read, but unfortunately I came away feeling disappointed and relieved that I’d finished it.

The story is told primarily through the diaries of Jonathan Harker, Mina Harker, Van Helsing and Dr Seward.  There is also a short series of letters between Mina Harker and Lucy Westernra.  Apart from Dracula himself – who, while talked about a lot, does not actually appear in the book very often – the other main characters are Arthur Goldalming (Lucy’s fiance) and Quincey Morris, a friend of the men.  I didn’t feel that any of the characters were particularly fleshed out – indeed when reading the diary entries, I would find myself forgetting which character’s account of events I was reading at that time – because they were pretty much indistinguishable from each other.  The exception to this was Van Helsing, who was distinguishable due to his habit of writing in very broken English. Unfortunately, I found his entries quite annoying for that reason (reminded me of Yoda from Star Wars).  Van Helsing’s knowledge of vampires and how to deal with them was never really explained – we never find out just why he knows so much about them; it just seems a convenient way to move the plot forward – here comes someone who knows exactly what we need to do.

I will say that there is a good story hiding in this book – and at the time that it was originally published, I can imagine that it was a very chilling tale indeed.  It’s a book which is very much loved by so many people, so I accept that I’m in the minority in not enjoying it, and wouldn’t want to discourage others from trying it for themselves.  However for me, the lack of any characterisation and the all too convenient plot devices were the two main reasons that this book just did not work for me.

(I’d like to thank The Book People for sending me this book to review.  The Book People’s website can be found here.  For more information about Bram Stoker, please click here.)

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