But I write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - J.D. Salinger ^(;,;)^
I've listened to several different versions of Dracula and while I don't typically enjoy ensemble audiobooks, this Cummings/Curry version seems to be the way Dracula was meant to be enjoyed.
Listened to this w/ the kids on the way to school for a month. I could probably write a whole piece on how Stoker's treatment of women ticked off my 10-year-old daughter. Mina Harker and Lucy's wedding fixation and Victorian helplessness drove my own little Emmeline nuts. My daughter also couldn't stand the whole: Mina was as 'smart as a man' attitude.
Otherwise, Dracula is still a fascinating piece of gothic fiction that captures the anxieties and stresses of a proto-modernist age (sex, feminism, technology, scientific method, xenophobia, colonialism, etc).
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.
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.
Audio books are growing. I have listened to books for months now, But I prefer my books in paperback/hardback format.
I'm a huge Dracula fan but I didnt like this book as much as I thought I would have. I guess I can say I like the movies better.
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.
An old broad that enjoys books of all types. Would rather read than write reviews though. I know what I like, and won't be bothered by crap.
All of the wonderful actors/narrators in this edition.
I haven't listened to Frankenstein yet, but that is on my list. I imagine since they were both written about the same time, they will be quite similar in style.
I love John Lee. He is one of my favorites. He isn't in it enough, but the other narrators are wonderful too.
I loved the characters of Minna and John. You really were rooting for them and since Lucy was lost, there was always the fear that John would have to kill Minna.
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!
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.
Never has the journey and quest of these poor souls been so vividly portrayed. It is the greatest performance of Dracula I have ever attended.
It is a full cast and usually that is a very crowded feeling when listening, but the way this book is written it works beautifully. Each character's journal entry is read by a different cast member and solely in their voice. It makes it truly feel as all these lives are sitting on the precipice of darkness together.
If you have tried and failed to get through the book fully, as I have, or just love the story this is a great way to experience the adventure. It is more than some Witty banter of Van Helsing and Dracula before he destroys the monster like some many movies have dissolved into. There is great work both physically and mentally by several to discover the motive and track down the monster. A great pulp adventure if ever there was and I am not sure why it isn't presented more as such.
A must read for all
I love reading and listening to books, especially fantasy, science fiction, children's, historical, and classics.
Despite the many vampire books, movies, and TV shows adapting or following it, Bram Stoker's Dracula (1897) remains absorbing, suspenseful, and even moving. One of the interesting things about the novel is that Stoker tells the story through "real" letters, diaries, memoranda, telegrams, and newspaper articles written, dictated, and compiled by the eyewitness characters (excluding the Count). In addition to providing thought-provoking perspectives on marriage, sexuality, class, community, culture (east and west), and religion, Stoker's book established numerous vampire rules: aristocratic lineage, superhuman strength and speed, undead immortality, shapeshifting and beast controlling powers, formidable cunning, sensual cruelty, absence of reflection in mirrors, abhorrence of crucifixes and garlic, susceptibility to decapitation and stakes through the heart, sun allergy, etc. And it is complex on gender, containing cringe-inducing lines like, "Why are we women so unworthy of good men?" while developing Mina Harker as its most on the ball and brave character, the real leader of "the Fellowship of the Count," capable of empathizing with Dracula as a "poor soul. . . the saddest case of all."
The novel begins with the young solicitor Jonathan Harker's diary account of his trip from England to Transylvania to help Count Dracula prepare to relocate to London. After receiving the two-fingered sign and the sign of the cross from locals and hearing them mutter about Satan, Hell, werewolves, and vampires, Harker writes with unwitting irony, "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.)" Dracula lives in "a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the sky." He has a cruel mouth, "peculiarly pointed canine teeth," and hair on the palms of his hands and says things like, "Listen to them, the children of the night, what music they make" when wolves are howling. Harker soon realizes that he's Dracula's prisoner and that the Count wants to get among the teeming streets of England for no philanthropic purposes.
Meanwhile, Mina, still Jonathan's fiance, and her best friend Lucy Westrana exchange innocent and romantic letters with ominous overtones, and Dr. Seward, one of Lucy's suitors, records his journal on phonograph cylinders, mulling over a charismatic patient in his lunatic asylum, a "homicidal zoophagous maniac" called Renfield who eats flies, spiders, and sparrows and says he's waiting for "the Master" to show up.
Having experienced many of the vampire-themed works of popular culture, I did at times hear the joints of their granddaddy creak. I found myself muttering, "Pay attention to the peasants, Harker!" Or "Quincey P. Morris' slang, trigger-happy bat shooting, and Winchesters are a little too 'American.'" Or "Good grief, guys--you know about Lucy and you know that Dracula's set up housekeeping right next door and you've found Mina to be at least as intelligent and brave as a man and yet to spare her from trauma you exclude her from your counsels and leave her alone at night without placing any garlic flowers around her bed?"
But more often I thought things like, "I want a paprika recipe or a twelve inch, nail studded, Slovak leather belt." Or "Those are some sublime sunset mountains." Or "I'd be in trouble if Dracula's brides cornered me on a sofa." Or "The count crawling head first down his castle wall like a lizard is creepy." Or "Poor Renfield is unforgettable." Or "The polygamous implications of taking or giving blood are interesting." Or "Kids really do incorporate scary and gruesome events and situations into their play." Or "This snow-swirling, wolf-howling, gypsy-fleeing, party-converging mountain scene is exciting and nearly recalls The Lord of the Rings!"
There are plenty of neat lines in Dracula, like these:
--"She makes quite a beautiful corpse"
--"The attitude of the two had a terrible resemblance to a child forcing a kitten's nose into a saucer of milk to compel it to drink."
--"You might as well ask a man to eat molecules with a pair of chopsticks, as to try to interest me about the lesser carnivera, when I know what is before me."
--"It is a strange world."
I just listened to the Audible "all-star cast" audiobook of Dracula. Alan Cumming is fine as Dr. Seward; he doesn't really change his sensitive, slightly raspy voice to perform different characters when speaking for Renfield, Dracula, Mina, etc. in Seward's diary, but convincingly expresses their different emotions. Simon Vance is OK as Jonathan Harker, Susan Duerden suitably soft and weak as Lucy Westenra, and Tim Curry great as Van Helsing. Unfortunately, Katherine Kellgren over-reads Mina Harker, often emphasizing words that don't merit the extra attention ("ONE LONG granite wall stretching out to sea") and imposing a circular rhythm onto Stoker's prose ("I do not remember ANYthing until the MORNing when Jonathan WOKE me"). I recoiled from her strident sections.
Another problem with this production is that because multiple characters write Van Helsing's utterances in their diaries, multiple readers variously speak the Dutch doctor's lines: Cumming uses his Dr. Seward voice, Vance a pseudo Germanic one with "v" for "w," and Kellgren a thick ersatz Russian (?) accent. Stoker only signals that Van Helsing is speaking English as a second language through foreign syntax and grammar, so I wish Vance and Kellgren had tried to approximate Curry's mild accent.
If you like the vampire or supernatural adventure genres, you should read this seminal novel, but I'd recommend the superb audiobook with Greg Wise reading the men's documents and Saskia Reeves the women's rather than the Audible one.