This story (very familiar to me) is so well performed by the artists reading it, that I cannot listen to it at night--it is simply too frightening. Good to be reminded of the power of Bram Stoker after years of other, lesser vampire books. Prepare to be scared--it's wonderful!
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.
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!
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)
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.
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.
Hey Audible, don't raise prices and I promise to buy lots more books.
Simon Vance, John Lee and Simon Prebble are among my favorite narrators/performers in the world of audiobooks. However, for me, Katherine Kellgren is just the most spectacular of all. I was introduced to Ms. Kellgren in the Bloody Jack series which, by another performer, I do not think I would have enjoyed nearly as much. She plays a prominent role of Mina Harker. The [audio-]book is not exactly structured as a real time dramatization of events.
If this is a genre you gravitate to, then this is certainly the classic to read. The integrity of this particular iteration is maintained as it has not always been so over the decades of its different incarnations. It is a return to Stoker’s original storytelling structure, that of reading the protagonists’ journal entries. It works great.
As much as I enjoyed the performance, and as much as Katherine Kellgren is my favorite, I still give the book and performance only 4 stars. It is a classic work and an excellent production but just not the very best of all audiobooks that I have listened to. In fact, even with this all star cast, I have rated single narrator performances more highly because they were just that... better. But again, if you’re looking for Bram Stoker Dracula, I don’t think you’ll find a better audiobook production than this one. I haven’t. As a sideline, for best movie production, I’d recommend the 1992 “Bram Stoker’s Dracula” with Gary Oldman, Winona Rider and Anthony Hopkins. Now there’s another all star cast and a great production that I did give 5 stars to.
Insomnia is my thing lately. Don’t sleep; stay up forever. Might as well write, right? So here it is, a book review. I know you’ve been dying for it, and I gotta say, I’ve been dying to write it.
Dracula was one of those books that I pretended to read in high school and then glossed over in college. Horror isn’t really my thing (Although Stephen King is probably one of my favorite writers ever. His genre of choice is unfortunate). Recently, I decided that I wanted to read more classics and so I bought a few on Audible. Audible is the bomb.
They had an Audible Studios edition of Dracula narrated by a full cast and oh, my. It was perfection. Alan Cumming was Dr. Seward. Katherine Kellgren was Mina Harker, Simon Vance was Jonathan Harker, and Tim Curry was Dr. Van Helsing. The narration was spot on. The narrator who did the voice of Lucy was irritating (her name escapes me at the moment), so I found Lucy irritating, but I think I would have anyway. Audible did a terrific job producing this.
The story is told in a series of diary entries, letters, and telegrams (the official word for those are epistolary novels, fyi). I didn’t know that before, or I might have read it sooner. I have an affinity for stories told in this manner. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society is one of my favorites for that exact reason. It credibly shows what each character was thinking or feeling without putting the reader in the omniscient perspective. It was perfect for the chilling story which was told.
The plot differed widely from the Dracula I had come to know through popular culture. Dracula is truly creepy and super old. He’s not redeemable, not good, but pure evil. And ridiculously smart. This isn’t Frankenstein’s monster or some mindless Edward-like vamp. This is a genius who pits his wits against a motley crew of Britain’s finest.
Dr. Van Helsing is also brilliant, but definitely needs the help of his little band.
The story starts with Jonathan visiting Dracula’s castle and realizing what he is. It’s very creepy and I had to stop listening for a time so I could reasonably get over it. Then Lucy becomes a vampire and thus the Band of Awesome is born. That’s just the title I gave them in my head. You’ve got Arthur, Lucy’s former fiancé. He’s a bit squeamish, but willing to undergo any trial to pay Dracula back for changing his darling girl. Then there are her two other suitors who were rejected: Dr. Seward (my personal favorite), and Quincy. Seward runs an asylum and Quincy is an American Cowboy. I love that Americans are represented in this tale. Seward calls Van Helsing, who knows more about Lucy’s “disease”, to help heal her. However, they fail and she is transformed into a child-eating vamp. Then Jonathan and Mina join the group as they discover they have all endured similar circumstances and that a grave danger faces England should Dracula move to London, as is his intent.
I have to say, Bram Stoker wrote women rather well for a man of his time. Wilhelmina is no delicate flower in need of rescuing. She is rescued, but she’s strong and contributes to her salvation by keeping spirits high and organizing all the information and, in the end, going with Van Helsing to Transylvania. I admire her relationship with Jonathan so much. He trusts her to do her own thing and respects her strength, mentally, emotionally, and morally. And she loves and respects him and his passion for his work. She wants to be a part of his life and he wants to be a part of hers. It’s a really awesome relationship. They are basically the perfect couple and were it not for the pesky vampire they would have had a delightful life.
I don’t want to tell all that happens because I enjoyed listening to it so much. Even if you’ve read it before, the Audible version is golden; you should go listen to it. It’s intense and beautiful. It’s intensely beautiful. This book is definitely on my favorites list.
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.