1897 London Times reviewMonday August 23rd
DRACULA cannot be described as a domestic novel, nor its annals as those of a quiet life. The circumstances described are from the first peculiar. A young solicitor sent for on business by a client in Transylvania goes through some unusual experiences. He finds himself shut up in a half ruined castle with a host who is only seen at night and three beautiful females who have the misfortune of being vampires. Their intentions, which can hardly be described as honourable, are to suck his blood, in order to sustain their own vitality. Count Dracula (the host) is also a vampire but has grown tired of his compatriots, however young and beautiful, and has a great desire for what may literally be called fresh blood. He has therefore sent for the solicitor that through his means he may be introduced to London society. Without understanding the Count's views, Mr. Harker has good reason for having suspicions of his client. Wolves come at his command, and also fogs; he is also too clever by half at climbing. There is a splendid prospect from the castle terrace, which Mr. Harker would have enjoyed but for his conviction that he would never leave the place alive-
. . .
These scenes and situations, striking as they are, become commonplace compared with Count Dracula's goings on in London. As Falstaff was not only witty himself but the cause of wit in other people, so a vampire, it seems, compels those it has bitten (two little marks on the throat are its token, usually taken by faculty for the scratches of a broach) to become after death vampires also. Nothing can keep them away but garlic, which is, perhaps, why that comestible is so popular in certain countries. One may imagine, therefore,how the thing spread in London after the Count's arrival. The only chance of stopping it was to kill the Count before any of his victims died, and this was a difficult job, for though several centuries old, he was very young and strong, and could become a dog or a bat at pleasure. However, it is undertaken by four resolute and high-principled persons, and how it is managed forms the subject of the story, of which nobody can complain that it is deficient in dramatic situations. We would not however, recommend it to nervous persons for evening reading.
Children's Literature - Anita Barnes Lowen
Almost everyone is familiar with the story of Dracula. Jonathan Harker, a young English solicitor, travels to Transylvania to finalize a real estate sale. He soon realizes that Count Dracula, his host and client, is not what he seems. "...what manner of creature is this in the semblance of a man?" Finding himself effectively imprisoned and discovering that he is promised to three female vampires ("...when I am done with him, you shall kiss him at your will") Harker escapes down the castle wall and knows no more. In England, a mysterious ship wrecks near the home of Lucy Westerna, a friend of Harker's fiancee. No crew, no captain...only a large dog that bounds overboard and disappears. Soon afterwards Lucy becomes pale and ill and unexplainable red marks appear on her throat. Her doctor is baffled and calls on his mentor, Van Helsing, who quickly surmises that Lucy has become one of the Undead and must be destroyed. "I shall cut off her head, fill her mouth with garlic, and I shall drive a stake through her heart." But the horror will not end until Dracula himself is found and destroyed. The story is told through journal entries and letters written by the novel's characters. At the end of the book, readers will find information on the author, major and minor characters, vampire myths, and vampire bats as well as suggestions of things to think about and do, and a glossary. With the current popularity of vampires in teen and young adult fiction, this chunky classic should be in every middle and high school library. Reviewer: Anita Barnes Lowen
School Library Journal
Gr 5-9–For readers wanting a small shiver down their spines, these books will suffice. Stoker’s Dracula is succinct and well edited. The art is stale and tame and might titillate, but it won’t produce any nightmares. The adaptation in Dorian Gray can be clunky at times but it covers the main points of the story. The beautiful and youthful Dorian Gray is never very attractive in the illustrations, but the decaying painting will appropriately disgust young readers. The story in The Invisible Man is heavily edited, and the action is crammed into a few pages, but the scenes in which the Invisible Man is on the loose are intense. The illustrations are fairly detailed and include some graphic scenes of blood and a nearly naked Invisible Man. All three books include information about the authors and a glossary. There are better adaptations of these novels available, but these titles provide slim and chilling reads that give a taste of the actual stories for reluctant readers.–Carrie Rogers-Whitehead, Kearns Library, UT
This illustrated adaptation of Bram Stoker's work trades the epistolary nature of the original for a condensed, third-person narration, supplemented by selections from Jonathan Harker's journal entries and from John Seward's memoirs. Hitting the major plot points, like Jonathan's arrival at Dracula's castle and Lucy's frightening transformation, Raven retains much of the subtle terror of Jonathan's imprisonment, while providing Mina with more volition (" ‘Tonight we end this,' added Mina firmly"). Readers will likely be chilled by Gilbert's evocative ink and colored pencil images and drawn to the enigmatic Count, with his long, blond hair and violet eyes. A lavish and accessible retelling. Ages 12-up. (July)
Publishers Weekly - Audio
This full-cast production is a masterly depiction of the Victorian gothic ethos in Stoker’s classic tale. Told through a series of letters and diary entries, the novel begins when Count Dracula lures a young English lawyer named Jonathan Harker to his castle in Transylvania under the pretense of a real estate transaction, but Harker soon discovers the count is a vampire and the diabolical intent in the real estate deal. It falls to the resourceful Professor Van Helsing, along with a handful of intrepid heroes, including Harker and his fiancée, Mina, to stop the count’s evil plans. The readers each have a distinctive voice for their characters and do a perfect job of conveying the emotional content of the assorted letters and diaries. Jamie Parker’s portrayal of Harker is particularly stirring, especially as the character slowly pieces together the horrific truth about Dracula. Alison Pettitt succeeds at providing a gamut of emotions for the voice of Mina throughout the story. Each reader hits the mark with precision. For anyone who has never read (or for anyone looking to revisit) this classic tale of gothic horror, this is a fine way to do so. (Mar.)
From the Publisher
"Those who cannot find their own reflection in Bram Stoker's still-living creation are surely the undead."New York Times Review of Books
David Glover University of Southampton
"No other edition so carefully assembles a wealth of contextual material, nor succeeds so admirably in drawing the reader into Stoker's cultural milieu."
Carol A. Senf Georgia Institute of Technology
"Glennis Byron has done a superb job of collecting just the right supplementary materials to accompany the novel, including reviews by Stoker's contemporaries, biographical material, information on the social and cultural topics that concerned Stoker and his readers, even a tourist guide to London in the late nineteenth-century."
Margaret L. Carter Bradley University
"Valuable for both research and classroom use. All Dracula scholars will want to own this useful, very reasonably-priced text."
Elizabeth Miller Memorial University
"Glennis Byron’s succinct yet comprehensive introduction provides a useful overview of critical responses to Stoker’s text. Even more valuable is the inclusion of supplementary material (some of which has not, until now been readily available) that clearly places Dracula in its historical context."
VOYA - Matthew Weaver
The prospect of a remake of Bram Stoker's classic is, at first, frightening. This book, however, quickly quells any uneasiness with the first of many gorgeous illustrations. Gilbert's artwork is so lushly vivid and lovingly craftedparticularly the recurring bat imagery and a scene where a wolf drinks a young woman's bloodthat it threatens to overpower the words altogether. As we advance through a story both familiar and fresh, heroine Mina waits for word from her fiance, Jonathan, who has gone to Transylvania to help a mysterious Count Dracula arrange housing in London. It's not long before the count has arrived and dear friend Lucy Holmwood falls gravely ill. Mina and Jonathan, with the aid of Professor Abraham Van Helsing, must work to rid themselves of the most famous vampire of all. Raven has rearranged Stoker's novel and made slight alterations to the story, including the addition of a gypsy boy who bears a long-standing vendetta against the infamous count, and a twist to the ending that would doubtless have sat well with the original author. In the midst of Twilight fervor, it must have been tempting to revisit Dracula as a tortured romantic figure, but aside from his new blond locks, there's plenty here to please longtime enthusiasts and welcome a whole new audience to a tale that, just as its central figure, refuses to die. Reviewer: Matthew Weaver
Children's Literature - Paula Rohrlick
This retelling of Bram Stoker's classic about the evil vampire count shortens the tale considerably and adds dramatic, handsome pen and colored ink illustrations, in a large format. In a note from the author, Raven explains the ways in which she has changed the story. Rather than relating it all in diary entries and letters, it is now mostly a narrative, featuring a young Jonathan Harker, though some diary pages do appear. Also, Raven marries Jonathan to Mina later than Stoker does, and she has Holmwood and Lucy marry as well. She offers a less gloomy version of vampire hunter Van Helsing; he is now a man with some wit and flair. Raven also presents the gypsies as enemies of the count, rather than allies. So this is a different take on the novel, rather than just an abridgment, but this version's striking illustrations should help attract a new audience to this old favorite. Their ominous shadows and beautifully rendered details help convey the sense of menace that hangs over the story. Reviewer: Paula Rohrlick
Read an Excerpt
Chapter ICopyright 2001 by Bram Stoker
Jonathan Harker’s Journal
(Kept in shorthand.)
3 May. Bistritz.1–Left Munich at 8:35 p. m., on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk through the streets. I feared to go very far from the station, as we arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible. The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most western of splendid bridges over the Danube,2 which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule.
We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh.3 Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem., get recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called “paprika hendl,” and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians.4 I found my smattering of German very useful here; indeed, I don’t know how I should be able to get on without it.
Having had some time at my disposal when in London, I had visited the British Museum,5 and made search among the books and maps in the library regarding Transylvania: it had struck me that some foreknowledge of the country could hardly fail to have some importance in dealing with a nobleman of that country. I find that the district he named is in the extreme east of the country, just on the borders of three states, Transylvania, Moldavia andBukovina,6 in the midst of the Carpathian mountains; one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe. I was not able to light on any map or work giving the exact locality of the Castle Dracula, as there are no maps of this country as yet to compare with our own Ordnance Survey maps;7 but I found that Bistritz, the post town named by Count Dracula, is a fairly well-known place. I shall enter here some of my notes, as they may refresh my memory when I talk over my travels with Mina.
In the population of Transylvania there are four distinct nationalities: Saxons in the South, and mixed with them the Wallachs, who are the descendants of the Dacians; Magyars in the West, and Szekelys8 in the East and North. I am going among the latter, who claim to be descended from Attila and the Huns. This may be so, for when the Magyars conquered the country in the eleventh century they found the Huns settled in it. I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool; if so my stay may be very interesting. (Mem., I must ask the Count all about them.)
I did not sleep well, though my bed was comfortable enough, for I had all sorts of queer dreams. There was a dog howling all night under my window, which may have had something to do with it; or it may have been the paprika, for I had to drink up all the water in my carafe, and was still thirsty. Towards morning I slept and was wakened by the continuous knocking at my door, so I guess I must have been sleeping soundly then. I had for breakfast more paprika, and a sort of porridge of maize flour which they said was “mamaliga,” and egg-plant stuffed with forcemeat, a very excellent dish, which they call “impletata.” (Mem., get recipe for this also.) I had to hurry breakfast, for the train started a little before eight, or rather it ought to have done so, for after rushing to the station at 7:30 I had to sit in the carriage for more than an hour before we began to move. It seems to me that the further east you go the more unpunctual are the trains. What ought they to be in China?
All day long we seemed to dawdle through a country which was full of beauty of every kind. Sometimes we saw little towns or castles on the top of steep hills such as we see in old missals; sometimes we ran by rivers and streams which seemed from the wide stony margin on each side of them to be subject to great floods. It takes a lot of water, and running strong, to sweep the outside edge of a river clear. At every station there were groups of people, sometimes crowds, and in all sorts of attire. Some of them were just like the peasants at home or those I saw coming through France and Germany, with short jackets and round hats and home-made trousers; but others were very picturesque. The women looked pretty, except when you got near them, but they were very clumsy about the waist. They had all full white sleeves of some kind or other, and the most of them had big belts with a lot of strips of something fluttering from them like the dresses in a ballet, but of course there were petticoats under them. The strangest figures we saw were the Slovaks, who were more barbarian than the rest, with their big cow-boy hats, great baggy dirty-white trousers, white linen shirts, and enormous heavy leather belts, nearly a foot wide, all studded over with brass nails. They wore high boots, with their trousers tucked into them, and had long black hair and heavy black moustaches. They are very picturesque, but do not look prepossessing. On the stage they would be set down at once as some old Oriental band of brigands. They are, however, I am told, very harmless and rather wanting in natural self-assertion.
It was on the dark side of twilight when we got to Bistritz, which is a very interesting old place. Being practically on the frontier–for the Borgo Pass leads from it into Bukovina–it has had a very stormy existence, and it certainly shows marks of it. Fifty years ago a series of great fires took place, which made terrible havoc on five separate occasions. At the very beginning of the seventeenth century it underwent a siege of three weeks and lost 13,000 people, the casualties of war proper being assisted by famine and disease.
Count Dracula had directed me to go to the Golden Krone Hotel, which I found, to my great delight, to be thoroughly old-fashioned, for of course I wanted to see all I could of the ways of the country. I was evidently expected, for when I got near the door I faced a cheery-looking elderly woman in the usual peasant dress–white undergarment with long double apron, front, and back, of coloured stuff fitting almost too tight for modesty. When I came close she bowed and said, “The Herr Englishman?” “Yes,” I said, “Jonathan Harker.” She smiled, and gave some message to an elderly man in white shirtsleeves, who had followed her to the door. He went, but immediately returned with a letter:–
“My Friend.–Welcome to the Carpathians. I am anxiously expecting you. Sleep well to-night. At three tomorrow the diligence9 will start for Bukovina; a place on it is kept for you. At the Borgo Pass my carriage will await you and will bring you to me. I trust that your journey from London has been a happy one, and that you will enjoy your stay in my beautiful land.
From the Paperback edition.