Friday, October 29, 2010

Dracula ~ by Bram Stoker (audio version)


"I am Dracula, and I bid you welcome . . . "

An enduring classic with an extremely charming, truly evil, yet almost human monster. I suggest leaving the lights on.

Synopsis:   With a Victorian setting in the late 19th century, a newly practicing attorney/solicitor from England is commissioned to visit a new client for his firm. He is to meet with this wealthy gentleman and stay at his castle in the mountains of Transylvania, while giving him advice on property acquisitions within the UK. The journey starts out decently for Jonathan Harker, but “red flags” pop up as he is warned by the locals and experiences eerie events during his journey to the Count’s country estate.

When he reaches his destination things are not as he was lead to believe. He finds that the Count himself is misleading and extremely intelligent, with a business savvy to match. Most disturbing is when Harker realizes the castle has no servants, parts are in complete ruin, he sees the count doing not very human things, and it appears that he is in fact a prisoner with in the castle. When he finally returns home, the young lawyer is beside himself, and worse yet it appears that he may have been followed. This scary story has only just begun.

Thoughts:   This is a wonderful tale which deserves to be read by anyone interested in classics, horror, and evil vampires. That it was written over 100 years ago and the emotions it incurs are still heart quickening, attest to the universal nature of this horror story and make it an enduring classic.

Set partially in Whitby, an amazing town on the East coast of England with iconic structures which still exist today, the story includes a variety of interesting and well developed characters, with our main character the Count, who is the evil embodiment of a sociopathic killer.

It is all told in letter format - epistolary or diary entries with each character well developed and interesting. Listening to the book in audio format, the telling is done via various voices and is close to perfect - old English accents, changing for each of the characters. I enjoyed it immensely. 

As for rating this classic I would say 4.5 stars. I recommend this version if you decide audio is the way to go for you.

Some Information about Whitby via travel pictures.

Below are pictures which John and I took in 2009 on one of our many visits to England where he is from.  When experiencing this book in its audio format these images helped it come alive for me. I could not help visualize this setting as it was described by the author. Also included below are several links to festivals based in the area, and a picture of our brother in law in full Dracula regalia at one such event which occurred last year in the town.


Whitby is on the Eastern side of Northern England. Set on the North Sea. The water is wild and choppy and very cold even in summer. This picture was taken from the pier which is located at the bay/river mouth and is a Southern outcrop of highland. Making this a perfect spot to watch incoming ships or marauders in this ancient  port city. It is also the spot where the gorgeous abbey is located,

This was taken during the summer June 2009. It was truly cold and windy, the norm for the area. Further to right on the mesa  you can actual see the little bits of the abbey’s spires. It is a key feature in several of the settings described in Dracula.

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Above are two pictures of the ancient abbey. They are described in the book exactly as they are pictured here. It was lovely walking through and inside the abbey, looking up at the architecture. Here is the historical setting for the spot:

The first monastery here was founded in AD 657 by King Oswy of Northumbria. An Anglo-Saxon style 'double monastery' for men and women, its first ruler was the formidable royal princess Abbess Hild. Here, Caedmon the cowherd was miraculously transformed into an inspired poet; here, the future of the English church was decided by the Synod of Whitby in 664; and here the relics of Northumbrian kings and saints were enshrined.

from the non profit site – English

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These are pictures of the hillside town walking down from on top of the plateau where the abbey is situated. We walked down on the cobbled streets from a very very old cemetery that is West from the abbey. On the left you can see across the channel and to the left the man made water breaker, which prevent the wild waters from coming into the river/bay. This water way is an  important setting within the book as well.15137_328923465230_904925230_9798285_6353174_n

To the right is my English brother in law, dressed as Dracula at a local festival held in Whitby, which the entire family attended.

If you are interested further, there is a gothic blog called Dracula in Whitby which gives you up to date information on a variety of festivals happening in the area.

  • Audio CD
  • Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged; Unabridged edition (September 25, 2005)
  • Genre: Classic Horror

    Normally I would not include links to purchase, however since there are so many version and so you can link to the correct version I have done so on this post.

    Amazon purchasing links - US/UK/Canada or The Book Depository - AUD and Euro.  Amazon is an affiliate (where we only make cents per book) but Book Depository is not.

    Happy Halloween!


    moonrat said...

    so (Gaps coincidence) I just finished reading POSSESSION for my list, and there is a very scenic section in Whitby, too. :)

    Shellie - Layers of Thought said...

    You know I tried to read Possession several years ago..and I could not get into it.

    I was just thinking that I really need to try it again. Now it has been solidified, if it has a scene in Whitby.

    Whitby is gorgeous. This shows so so little.

    Looking forward to your thoughts on Possession.

    moonrat said...

    Shellie, that book TOTALLY took over my life for the last two weeks. I admit the first 100 pages were a very difficult slog, but once I hit the meat I was so caught up in it I was waking up early in the morning to get a couple hours of reading in before work, etc. If it's on your list, you should definitely give it another shot :)

    I'll do a more complete report in a couple days. I need to compost a little.

    Shellie - Layers of Thought said...

    Okay so if I make it through the first 3 or 4 chapters... then its brilliant? I can do this.

    I have been seeing that its glbt as well has some links to myth and fairy tales?

    I wonder if they have it in audio? off to do a search. :)

    Yes I let Dracula stew for a year before writing this review.

    Emily Cross said...

    I haven't reas the book. Keep starting and stopping but it's on the list.
    Interesting went on the 'dublin ghost tour' during the week, and when standing outside the christchurch crypt. The tour guide said originally BS wanted to have Dracula as Irish man but english publishers refused because saw dracula as too suave to be a stupid irishman lol so switched to transylvania (I don't know about this though because seen documentaries etc.) but interesting thing was said. Supposedly BS grandmother used to tell him stories about the great famine (1840s) and how people used to eat grass and vomit up blood, even after they were dead. So you would have your wake, with the dead person in the living room of the house, and family wake up next day and see trickle of blood down the dead person's mouth and supposedly that sparked the idea.

    SO there you go a bit of useless info for halloween lol.

    Shellie - Layers of Thought said...

    Wow Emily -
    Very interesting. Vomit blood after death?.... from eating grass yikes.

    As "modern" folks we are so far removed from it we haven't a clue. Its all been sanitized.

    Those snobby English. I think he would have been great as an Irish count from a wind blown castle.

    Perhaps this audio version would be the way to go for you? I rented it at the library.

    moonrat said...

    Shellie--yes, definitely all those elements apply. It's a very rich and meaty book, with a lot of things to think about in it, and yet somehow the author isn't moralizing or proselytizing her view. I was almost disappointed in the end when I realized the book probably wouldn't make ANYone angry :)

    and Emily--that is FANTASTIC (and horrible). Thank you for sharing!

    Jan in Edmonds said...

    Was scrolling through the website and thought I recognized the abbey pix and sure enough. My dh & I also have been there -- only longer ago than 2009. It was more like 1985 because our 11 y/o daughter was with us. Great memories and great pix, too. Thanks for sharing.

    BTW, I thought I'd signed up for Fill in the Gaps. Was wondering if one can make changes to the original list? Thanks. Fun challenge!

    Emily Cross said...

    Jan, feel free to change your list. That's no problem. If you're a member you should be able to edit your own posts (if you haven't gotten invite before or posted before on the blog give me a shout - leave a comment and I'll sort it out) :)

    Shellie - Layers of Thought said...

    Jan -
    I loved Whitby.

    But I love the UK/Ire and England is my second home. :)

    As for making changes to your list, I plan to do so with mine. I believe Emily is very flexible with this challenge. But I am sure she will comment on this thread here soon.