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 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.
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 have seen the movie yet I found this book to be very entertaining. This book describes the story through letters and personal diaries which is very interesting in itself. One of the more interesting aspect of this book was the communication between the characters. It was so great that it reminded me of blogging, e mails and text messages.
The story is well known, but I would venture that this book could stack-up against one of the best monster books I have ever read. The details, history and depth of the monster is very captivating and impressive. I image, this would have been a ground breaking book in its time, and no wonder that vampire fiction still alive and thriving.
The language that is used flows beautifully adding to the story and delivered expertly by narrators all of which make this book a very entertaining read.
Narration: It is so well done that one could listen to this ensemble reading newspapers. It is very well done and with correct pace.
I highly recommend this book!
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.
This was a great book and one of the best for Dracula. However I got this because I wanted to hear Tim Curry read it and he is almost never doing the narration. They over sell Alan Cumming and Tim Currys performance. If you want a good reading of Dracula this is fine but I find this disappointing for the cast I was promised.
I was a little skeptical when I saw the long list of narrators. But it turns out that this perfectly suits the style of the book, written as a series of letters.
There was some parts where I had difficulty following the narrator. Turns out that those parts (spoken by 'common' folks) are equally unintelligible in the book. Apparently, Stoker used some local dialects for some characters
Overall, a superb production. Need these kind of productions to get people to 'read' the classics