I can find a book to love in any genre -- a beautifully written classic, an interesting mystery or sci-fi, a trashy romance. Bring it!
STORY - (1897 horror classic) I'm not sure what I expected from Dracula but, nevertheless, I was pleasantly surprised by the story itself and the quality of the writing. It begins in Count Dracula's castle in Transylvania, but most of the story occurs in London after he relocates there (more people to bite). There is very little violence, and this is definitely NOT a cheap horror thriller with tons of bloodlust and gore. It occurs during a time when the world was basically unaware of the existence of vampires, so it unfolds as an eerie mystery that the main characters are trying to solve.
The story is elegantly written with an impressive vocabulary, and there is no cursing. Undoubtedly, in 1897 when this was written the subject matter was shocking and would have qualified as true horror, but in today's world I would rate it much lower on the horror scale. Don't get me wrong -- people are "turned," graves are opened, and there are stakes to drive through hearts -- but the focus is more on solving the mystery than lots of gratuitous gore. I would have rated it a 5, but I thought it was a little long and sometimes I lost interest before it would pick back up again.
PERFORMANCE - Most of the story is conveyed by the reading of diaries of the main characters and telegrams between them. There are eight different narrators, with each one performing a different character. This is not done conversationally, but rather each one reads his character's diary in turn. This makes it easy to follow who is telling their story and very much enhances the overall performance.
OVERALL - Even if you don't like vampire stories (as I don't), I think anyone would just enjoy this well-told mystery.. After all, this is a famous classic that spawned the whole vampire genre!
I grew up on Golden Age Radio, and while I love to read, I typically consume more books via audio thanks to a job that lets me listen while I work. As an aspiring writer, I try to read a great deal of non-fiction in addition to a variety of fictional genres. I especially love history, historical fiction, science fiction, fantasy, and old-style gothic horror.
Vampires are, and have been for a long time, a staple of pop culture. They're everywhere, so much so that, like zombies, they're practically a beating for those not complete enamored with their glut. Vampire fans know that you often have to go through several hundred books and movies before you find a truly good story, and few - if anyone - seem to want to go backwards and experience the classics.
Everyone thinks they know the story of Dracula. There have been more versions, translations, reboots, sequels, etc., of this story than there are of any other character in all of popular fiction, up to and including the great Sherlock Holmes. I submit that if you've never read Bram Stoker's original, you don't know Dracula even half as well as you might think.
Whether you have actually read this story or if you're ready to take the plunge, I would strongly suggest that this Audible Edition is perhaps the absolute best treatment of the story I've ever encountered. Forget all you know - or think you know - and allow the story to unfold through a truly magnificent experience. As Stoker's tale is told through journal entries, letters, and newspaper clippings, this format makes it a rare treasure for the audio format in that it can utilize and benefit from a full cast without having to change the original prose in the slightest. The result is astounding, and I can't say that lightly. Dracula has always been one of my favorites, with few iterations ever living up to the original version, and to hear this version... wow!
It's easy to praise the likes of Tim Curry, Alan Cumming, and Simon Vance, for they are consistently turning out A-level audio work. You won't find them slacking off here either. But to compliment them, there's not one single voice in this story that seems out of place. For audio, it's a dream team performance. Special kudos to Katherine Kellgren for her turn as Mina. There is a lot of subtlety in her performance where you can tell this woman is both distraught to the point of emotional breakdown and trying to keep it together for the sake of appearance. None of the performances are over the top; they are true to the voices of their characters instead of what popular culture has turned them into. That one point alone is worthy of thundrous applause in my book.
If I had anything negative to say, it would be to say that the caliber of the performance almost demands a musical score that could enhance it further, but I admit that might be going too far. Regardless, this is a must-have. Audible is to be congratulated for putting this together.
I love the BBC and British mysteries, but my tastes are very eclectic. I live with my husband and menagerie of rescued cats and dogs.
I would definitely recommend this book because of the incredible performances. I read the book several years ago and liked it, but listening to it...I LOVE it! If you've never read Dracula, this is the version you want; if you have read or listened to Dracula before, you still want THIS version. This is sure to be considered the definitive version of Dracula.
Mina Murray was a stand out character. As performed by Katherine Kellgren, Mina was a strong female character who managed to remain feminine. Further, Kellgren voiced the other characters in Mina's narratives very distinctively.
I was particularly struck by Renfield's characterization in this version. In the movie versions and even in my own reading, I had envisioned Renfield as a victim. In this version, Renfield is clearly a manipulative madman, quite creepy even before we find him influenced by Dracula. Looking back, I was surprised to see that no single person voiced Renfield because his character was so well-defined and cohesive across different narrators.
The cast of narrators is like a list of my own favorite narrators. Each one is so good at his or her job that this novel comes to life.
This is a must listen! I grew up reading this story, viewing Hollywood's interpretation, and now, taking a chance, purchased the audible copy. Wow! What an amazing production. Honestly, at 2:00 a.m., listening to the narrative, with all the lights out--I felt terror--the shear terror of this timeless story.
The idea of having multiple narrators for this book is a good one: like the novels of Wilkie Collins, it seems made for that. And while most of the readers here are first-rate, I was disappointed in Alan Cumming's performance. To me (apparently in contrast to most of the other listeners), it seemed bland, hurried, almost phoned-in. This is particularly a problem because the journal of his character, John Seward, takes up much if not the majority of the novel. Cumming is an outstanding actor, but here (for me), he misses the mark. I much prefer the single-narrator versions of Simon Vance and John Lee, both of whom appear here as well.
After hearing so many variations of Dracula, it was interesting to hear the original story. I thought there were parts that were genuinely creepy, and the narrators were a big part of the overall atmosphere. Simon Vance was terrific. Not an overwhelming amount of blood and gore (considering it's Dracula, after all!), which for me, is good. I listened to this in the comfort and security of my own home, and actually found myself startled by little sounds around the house, and thinking I should turn another light on.
Since discovering audible, my life is richer. I live in a small rural KS community, with higher than average IQ which can be a bad combo at times. Audible allows me to be myself.
If you imagine you are reading this novel for the first time and are living in the time period, it would scare you and probably stick with you for your entire life i.e. The Exorsist for those living in the mid 70's. If you can imagine the horror they felt, it helps as you listen. However, because this is the 21'st century the story is tame by today's standards and to be honest, there were several places where the story line became cluttered. It's a classic, there is no doubt but a classic that has seen better days. I just couldn't give it much more than a 3 star rating. Good enough to spend a credit but not much more.
I've had this book on my to-read list for years, but I kept putting it off because it's described as a horror novel. Horror books and movies give me freaky dreams, so I usually stay away from them. But this book isn't scary at all. (At least it wasn't for me, and I'm a big sissy.)
This was Bram Stoker's second novel, published in 1897. For a second novel he really showed that he knew what he was doing. The characters all have unique and well developed personalities. His descriptions of the settings are perfect and not as flowery as some would have done during that time period. The epistolary format adds to the believability of an otherwise preposterous situation. And I enjoyed the inclusion of popular psychology and medical practices of the Victorian Era. You can really see how far we've come in 120+ years. The only thing about this novel that I disliked was his description of women. They were swooning, helpless messes that would be lost without men by their sides. But, at the same time, Mina is one of the strongest and smartest characters. Without her this book, and the men in it, would have been lost. It just irritated me when she would push aside her own feelings and desires because her husband, or some other man, told her it would be for the best, and of course men know better than women. Ugh. So, I kept reminding myself that it was the accepted ideas of the time, and then tried to let it go.
Also, the narrators were fantastic! They brought the characters to life. I agree with other reviewers , the whole cast should have been listed during the end credits.
This book got me hooked on audiobooks and I still haven't found another to quite compare. The spellbinding story is nicely complimented by the flawless narration. I found myself looking for opportunities to keep listening to it so I started listening while I cleaned house. Never had such a clean house than I did the week or two I was playing this!
Increasing my ops tempo by allowing storytellers to whisper in my ear(buds).
I recently undertook the personal challenge to listen to five different versions of DRACULA because listening to Bram Stoker’s classic years ago made me a fan of audiobooks. I enjoyed that experience so much that I decided to try to determine if I had just gotten lucky or if there was an even better version available. Besides, I wanted to listen to it again. With most books I feel fortunate to have just one audio version available, but with DRACULA there are so many versions offered that listening to them all is not practical. I first figured that I could handle maybe three different versions but then discovered two more that I thought deserved attention. The Audible list had these five that I thought might be contenders:
Listed in my order of listening preference:
1) Susan Adams & Alexander Spencer (Recorded Books 1980)
2) Peter Sciarrio & Kris Faulkner & a FULL CAST, (Books in Motion 2008)
3) Greg Wise & Saskia Reeves (BBC Audiobooks 2008)
4) Robert Whitfield (aka Simon Vance), (Blackstone edition 1998)
5) Alan Cumming & Tim Curry & cast (Audible edition 2011)
Review for this version:
5) Alan Cumming (m) Tim Curry (m) & additional cast, Audible Edition 2011 [run time 15:28],
This is the newest version on my list and the one produced by Audible Inc. This is billed as having a full cast and features Alan Cumming as Dr. John Seward, Simon Vance as Jonathan Harker and the usually fabulous Tim Curry as Dr. Van Helsing. This is a fine version even though it was my least favorite of the five in this group. My chief criticism is the failure to utilize the cast at every opportunity. This novel is a compilation of a series of journals, diary entries, telegrams, newspaper reports and transcripts of phonograph recordings. The editorial strategy for this version was to employ the actor reading his own journal even when that journal entry contains the quotes and dialog of other characters. Because of this Alan Cumming as Seward and Simon Vance as Harker get the lion's share of the men's voices. Tim Curry as Van Helsing gets scant air time because the character rarely writes down his own words. This under-utilization of Curry is a shame for he is wonderful when he does appear.
In chapter 12 Alan Cumming does all the talking during the reading of Dr. Seward's diary account of Lucy’s death, despite the many different characters whose words are captured. This is baffling since there are actors on the cast that elsewhere portray these characters and could have contributed to the variety and energy of the performance. I do not understand the decision of the producers to, at the onset of the project, hire multiple actors to portray the various characters, then fail to use those actors at every opportunity, instead choosing to restrict the actors to reading their character’s lines strictly to those instances where their character makes his own journal entry or sends a telegram. The producers seemingly want to preserve some of the charm of the diary format, that of Mina relating the professor's words, and also add richness by giving Van Helsing his own voice on occasion. But since Van Helsing's words are most often remembered by other characters we seldom get to hear Tim Curry.
Lest I start sounding as if this is a poor version, let me assure that it is good by any audiobook standards. I would be overjoyed to have a production of this quality available for many of my favorite novels that will probably never ever become audiobooks at all, but with four other quality versions to compete with, this version comes in fifth place. If this is the only version you ever listen to you will be pleased with it and become immersed in the novel DRACULA. You will, however, not be getting the greater enjoyment you could get from the novel in one of the other versions. Why not try several and see?
Chapter stops match book chapter numbers.
The sound quality is very good. Very high production values.
00:00:33 Includes the brief introduction: “How these papers have been placed in sequence will be made clear in the reading of them…”
7:18:39 (Repeated phrase) Mina’s telegram inviting Van Helsing is read twice.
10:27:40 Mispronunciation of “sentience.” (as SEN-t-ence)
Follows the text of THE ANNOTATED DRACULA (TAD)
1:25:00 “Occupied in bygone days,” (TAD p. 38.1) When listening to this it sounds like there is a break between the words "occupied" and "in bygone days." It is as if the words "by the ladies," as in the text of THE ESSENTIAL DRACULA, were initially read by Cumming then edited out in post production to match a different text.
2:00:32 “To-morrow night, to-morrow night is yours.” (TAD p. 53.5)