So apparently the ‘done thing’ is to set up a challenge, get really excited about it, comment on a lot of other posts… and then not actually read any of the damn books yourself. Or that’s what you do if you’re me, at any rate. But now that time is past! Look people – I can finally cross one book off my League of Extraordinary Gentlemen challenge!
|The LoEG’s take on Mina.|
That said, I did like Mina Harker. She acted as you would expect from an upper class Victorian lady – fainting, worrying, not taking any part in the action, etc – but still managed to make herself useful at the same time. In fact, the collection of letters, diary entries and newspaper entries that comprises the book was theoretically compiled by Mina Harker. I do wish that the men of the story would stop idolising her quite so much for no apparent reason though. They refer to her as ‘that dear Madam Mina’ more times than they use her damn name!
Never did I see such baffled malice on a face, and never, I trust, shall such ever be seen again by mortal eyes. The beautiful colour became livid, the eyes seemed to throw out sparks of hell fire, the brows were wrinkled as though the folds of flesh were the coils of Medusa’s snakes, and the lovely, blood-stained mouth grew to an open square, as in the passion masks of the Greeks and Japanese. If ever a face meant death, if looks could kill, we saw it at that moment.
I also liked Van Helsing, although his long lectures on morality, sin and everything inbetween got a little annoying and hard to follow (or even summon interest for). He also had a strange way of speaking as he’s Dutch and so occasionally struggles with his English. I understand the purpose of having a foreign vampire expert present, but it does grow old fast.
The story itself does take a good few chapters to get going. The beginning is painfully slow but is necessary to set the scene of gloom and despair. After that, I couldn’t put it down. The narrative is told primarily through the characters diary entires, but with a few telegrams, letters and newspaper clippings to provide a little diversity. It kept the story fresh, seeing it from different perspectives and through different mediums.
It’s not an action-packed book, nor a scary one. Instead it creates an atmosphere of darkness and despair that follows you even after you shut the book. Every time I put it down, I felt like I was in a little Dracula bubble that lasted for a long time after. The outside world just couldn’t seem to permeate through, almost like Dracula himself had put me in a trance!
I really did enjoy Dracula, although it was a lot more formal and quieter than I expected. Still, I imagine it was more than a little shocking for 1897. It was interesting to see how all those vampiric traditions came about though – like the garlic and the Christian symbols. You have to be prepared to work at this novel, but it definitely does pay off.
As an off-note, did you know that Bram Stoker’s wife was first courted by Oscar Wilde, but she chose Stoker over him? God bless Wikipedia.