Followers of the popular vampire literary and film interpretations of recent years might be blasé about another performance of the exquisitely written novel that started it all. But listening to this full-cast performance turns out to be remarkably suspenseful and chilling. The superlative cast lends this powerful production the diversity that is required by the structure of the novel, which includes journal entries and letters. Each actor employs various accents, infusing into the characters vibrant emphasis, urgency, and dread. The famed vampire Count Dracula leaves a swath of exsanguinated bodies in his wake as he attempts to relocate from Transylvania to England in 1897, stalked by the brave Van Helsing.
Audie Award, Distinguished Achievement in Production, 2013
Audie Award, Multi-voiced Performance, 2013
Audie Award Nominee, Classic, 2013
Because of the widespread awareness of the story of the evil Transylvanian count and the success of numerous film adaptations that have been created over the years, the modern audience hasn't had a chance to truly appreciate the unknowing dread that readers would have felt when reading Bram Stoker's original 1897 manuscript. Most modern productions employ campiness or sound effects to try to bring back that gothic tension, but we've tried something different. By returning to Stoker's original storytelling structure - a series of letters and journal entries voiced by Jonathan Harker, Dr. Van Helsing, and other characters - with an all-star cast of narrators, we've sought to recapture its originally intended horror and power.
This production of Dracula is presented by what is possibly the best assemblage of narrating talent ever for one audiobook: Emmy Award nominees Alan Cumming and Tim Curry plus an all-star cast of Audie award-winners Simon Vance (The Millenium Trilogy), Katherine Kellgren (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Susan Duerden (The Tiger’s Wife), John Lee (Supergods) and customer favorites Graeme Malcolm (Skippy Dies), Steven Crossley (The Oxford Time Travel series), Simon Prebble (The Baroque Cycle), James Adams (Letters to a Young Contrarian), Nicola Barber (The Rose Garden), Victor Villar-Hauser (Fun Inc.), and Marc Vietor (1Q84). These stellar narrators have been cast as follows:
Dr. Seward: Alan Cumming
Jonathan Harker: Simon Vance
Mina Murray/Harker: Katy Kellgren
Lucy Westenra: Susan Duerden
Van Helsing: Tim Curry
Graeme Malcolm: Dailygraph correspondent
Steven Crossley: Zookeeper’s account and reporter
Simon Prebble: Varna
James Adams: Patrick Hennessey
Nicola Barber: Sister Agatha
Victor Villar-Hauser: Arthur Holmwood
Marc Vietor: Quincey Morris
John Lee: Introductory paragraph, various letters
Public Domain (P)2011 Audible, Inc.
"Listening to this full-cast performance turns out to be remarkably suspenseful and chilling…The superlative cast lends this powerful production the diversity that is required by the structure of the novel…Each actor employs various accents, infusing into the characters vibrant emphasis, urgency, and dread." (AudioFile)
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.
Last year I began the Vampire Chronicles after reading Christopher Moore’s vampire series. In the Christopher Moore books, which are comedy, at one point the boyfriend of a novice vampire struggles to help her by collecting all the vampire fiction he could find. His comical references to the differences are funny and made me curious. Having completed 4 Anne Rice novels, I thought I’d go back to where it all began and read the classic.
The style is, of course, a bit funny since it is stiff, proper and full of words that are less used today. Never the less, the style of narrative via letters, diary entries and notes is clever and gives the reader the feeling of having stumbled across a secret archive. While there isn’t the blood and gore of some modern horror tales, Stoker creates real ambiance in his lavish descriptions and subtle details. This was a clever writing style and quite enjoyable. Now I know why this caught on and has become so iconic. Like so many classics, characters and phrases have entered the lexicon to the extent that I recognized much of this book. Well written, well read - I highly recommend.
Final Note: I had thought Carfax was a service that faxed reports of cars. In our modern age it seemed quaint that this business would make itself seem older by referencing 80s technology. However, Carfax is the name of Dracula’s estate in England! Could it be that the nice car history report people are actually blood sucker?
I enjoyed the way the story was constructed. I haven't read another novel that was written in the form of journal, diary, and memos, but I can say this added a really interesting element to the story telling.
I haven't read anything similar that I might compare it too, although I might try now.
Their voices and accents make this listen really fun. I liked each narrator's take on Van Helsing.
Van Helsing for sure. I'm sure he would pay.
Another must listen!
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.
A part-time buffoon and ersatz scholar specializing in BS, pedantry, schmaltz and cultural coprophagia.
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).
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.
I listened to Dracula and liked it so much, I began listening to it a second time immediately. The performers were excellent, and I enjoyed the vocal inflections that added life to the story.
What I found to be one of the most poignant and pivotal moments in Dracula was when Van Helsing explains to Mina Harker that the hunt for the vampire must go on because, being immortal, if Dracula chose to go to ground, Mina would die outside the grace of God - that the destruction of Dracula was imperative for the salvation of Mina's soul. Van Helsing's character is so mentally and physically robust, that his tender consideration for her immortal soul showed an incredibly kind and gentle side that was not typical for him in the normal course of things.
The vocal inflections are varied and incredibly well done. Bram Stoker's Dracula is written in the style of its time, which is to say it's a bit dry. The narrators managed to bring the era with its social customs and somewhat awkward phrasing to life, and breathed life into what could be, to our modern eyes, a little tedious.
My reaction to Dracula was one of interest and thoughtfulness. Vampires have been glamorized and romanticized so much, in print and in movies, that it was actually refreshing for there to *not* be a romantic element in it. Bram Stoker's Dracula is an extremely intelligent, methodical, and ruthless monster - but "monster" is the operative word here.
I'd recommend this Audible version of Bram Stoker's Dracula to anyone - especially anyone wanting to understand where the Dracula story was brought into its literary existence. I'm sure I'll enjoy watching all the different renditions of the Dracula legend in movie form now that I know how the 'real' story ends.
Yes, I suppose I would recommend it, if only because it is a "classic" and, by and large, the performances are exemplary.
Two caveats, however:
1) I had forgotten just how tedious and repetitive much of the storyline is. Maybe it's simply an unavoidable fault/limitation of the epistolary format but Stoker has his characters making the same points over and over and over again throughout the story, reiterating plot and character points that have already been sufficiently made. There are only a certain number of times we need to be told about (and have demonstrated) Dracula's abilities before it starts to feel like padding. Likewise with much of the later plot, which is really drawn out well past the point of necessity or suspense and then ends with a truly startling abruptness. I was more enthralled by, and more forgiving of, all this when I originally read it as a child.
2) Tim Curry, though normally a fabulous performer, is really off in his portrayal of Van Helsing. He seems narcotized much of the time, with readings that are so languid and careful and sssllllooooooowwww, that I found it maddening to listen. There is no urgency to his portrayal, even during later passages of (supposedly) tense action and suspense. He reads much as you would expect if he were performing for a class of especially dense elementary school children. Thankfully, Van Helsing doesn't have many of his own passages in the book and the other actors portray him (second-hand) with far greater skill and interest.
Sure. DRACULA is still a good story even if a bit drawn-out by modern standards. I've always intended to read/listen to his other horror tales.
Alan Cumming's portrayal of Dr. Seward is fantastic. He was perfect for the part and really brought it to life. I will definitely be seeking out other audiobooks narrated by him.
Uh... note sure. Stoker never wrote a sequel but there have been hundreds of such pastiches over the last century or so. Most of the good ones (see Kim Newman's ANNO DRACULA series) seem already to be available on audiobook.
Overall this was quite enjoyable. With the exception of Tim Curry, all the other readers do splendid work. If the story and writing itself are not as good as my memory had misled me to believe, it was still an enjoyable listen.
Yes, and over and over. I love this story, and I don't know if I'll ever read it again if I have the option to listen to this reading.
World War Z. They are both epistolary, and have different voices for the different characters. Both are done very well, and talk about a war between the living and the dead.
They were astounding! Each reader really captured their character, and had a large degree of variation in how they read the parts (in a good way, I'm not sure if that conveys what I'm trying to say accurately). This is probably my favorite listening experience so far.
Audiobooks have literally changed my life. I now actually ENJOY doing mindless chores because they give me plenty of listening time!
How wonderful to discover a classic you think you know by heart and be surprised and enchanted by the telling of it. Dracula has become such a common character over the years, with countless movies made featuring famous actors such as Béla Lugosi (1931) and Gary Oldman, Winona Ryder, Anthony Hopkins and Keanu Reeves (1992), not to mention all the books based on the title character and vampires in general, and Dracula's ubiquitous little avatars running around, fangs bared every Halloween night for well over one hundred years.
I had always assumed that the story was told from the point of view of Jonathan Harker, the young solicitor who travels to Transilvania at the beginning of the story to meet a client whom he is far from suspecting of being undead, until clear evidence to the contrary plunges him into despair and madness. While we are indeed privy to Harker's journal notes detailing his adventure from day to day, we also get to snoop into his soon-to-be wife Mina Murray's journal, and then that of John Seward as well—a young doctor who is running a madhouse and has a patient under observation who is overly fond of flies and spiders. Adding to my enjoyment was the knowledge supplied to me by a well-informed reader of classics, that the technology mentioned in the course of the story was considered cutting-edge at the time the novel was published.
But perhaps the greatest treat was listening to this latest audio production of this classic, told by multiple narrators, with top billing given to the excellent Alan Cumming as Seward and Tim Curry as his mentor, the dutch professor Van Helsing. Of course, one can't exactly expect any great surprises as we all know what the final outcome is, but all the same, it's a good story very well told.
"Frankenstein Assemblage From Anaemic All-Star Cast"
Very disappointed with this version of Dracula; I was looking to spend a credit wisely, but was regretting it within 30 mins. What could possibly go wrong? A stellar cast, the promised restitution of the horror and power missing in so many other productions, and all the 'campiness' and creepy music erased. For me, however, much of the narration seems decidedly lacklustre, rather careless even, lacking the much vaunted drive and tension in numerous sections: in short it seems to lack direction. To me, it seems not to have been directed at all but 'divvied up' and then reassembled. One of the female characters speaks throughout in the same simpering and numbing three-note cadence, while one character accent, from the North East of England sounds suspiciously as if modelled on Daphne out of 'Frasier'. Editing choices militate against any build in tension: pauses are chopped out, sentences butt up against each other as if there was a shortage of 'tape'. Wish I'd gone for one of the single narrator versions or the BBC dramatized version.
"Horror well done."
I love Bram Stokers "Dracula" of which I have many audiobook versions. Personally I find the multiple cast members bring a whole new world to the characters and story pace, rather than a lone narrator. Some of the accents and pronunciations are a little off, but I like the quirkiness and professionalism of this audiobook.
"Classic horror with multiple voices"
The basic story of Dracula is probably familiar to most, but it is the central concept that stays longest in the mind after reading/listening. To be fair the plot loses steam at various moments and the characters are fairly flat, but the vampire and Transylvania as a setting have had so much impact on Twentieth Century culture that this book needs to read by everyone at least once just to see where it all came from. And I can't think of a better way to do that than listening to this audio-book. The book is narrated by various voices, so likewise this audio-book is read by a different narrator for each character, such as Alan Cumming for Seward and Time Curry as Van Helsing. This works very well, the multiple voices really adding something extra to sustain interest - this really is one of the most enjoyable audio-books I have listened to: A massively influential book read very well - highly recommended.
"Will disturb your sleep"
As preparation for a project set in Whitby I downloaded Bram's Stoker's classic "Dracula' to as useful way of getting a feel for the place. This is a very unnerving story and rather than providing me with local colour on Whitby, the novel kept me awake for 3 nights as I became fixated with the plot and characters. It does not matter how many second rate horror movies have been made of this story, the original does not fail to chill. Stoker's detail and multi-vocal perspective seems innovative and designed to entrap the reader. Read with restraint and precision by an able cast, this is a must listen.
"Started of well and then got really bad."
The first part of the book was really good and engaging all about the man staying at Dracula's house and discovering who or what dracula was. And then just as it got juicy, it switched narrator's voice to a lady in England, who has a REALLY annoying voice. This unfortunately is as far as I got. Her voice is really whiny and I am SO confused as what is going on. Don't bother, read the book.
I have to agree with Greg. I found this dragged on and i struggled to finish it. thought with the cast it had, it would of been alot better than it was. Tim Curry was hardly in it which was what i was looking forward to but was disappointed.
"In many way's great, in other ways not so great"
Alan Cumming's Dr Seward, and John Lee's (other persons) performances are great. I also enjoyed Simon Vance's Johnathan Harker. The whole thing comes together very well, with exception to only a few irritations.
Difficult to say, as most audio books I've heard have only one performer, or narrator. Being rather fond of John Lee, as a narrator, and with consideration to another 'classic,' a revenge masterpiece in this case, I would strongly recommend The Count of Monte Cristo. However, it's a very long, unabridged listen (50+ hrs), compared to this much shorter, unabridged audio book (c15hrs).
Alan Cumming's Dr Seward
I never do - always too many hours to sit through!
I wasn't terribly keen on the female parts of this particular narration. Perfectly clear, and well read, however the characterisation in no way appealed to me. I thought for a while that Mina Murray/Harker (Katy Kellgren) and Lucy Westenra (Susan Duerden) were performed by the same person, there being only minor character alterations between the two, regarding tone and voice. More discernibly different voice actors in this case would have helped this particular version enormously. Susan Duerden's 'Lucy,' of the two female performers in this case, was the most annoying.
"Great all star cast production"
I would listen again, its a great story that is very well voiced. As the novel is written/read as journal/diary entries, letters and news reports; I feel that it suits book form rather than audiobook.
That said, the cast did an excellent job and put the emotion and suspense in the story. I found Lucy Wisteria's voice very jarring but soon got used to her.
The multiple actors, this helped separate the different 'authors' of the letters/diary entries
Not better than the print version but on par with it.
The different narrators really bring the story to life.
Entering castle Dracula for the first time and the frowning weathered stones.
Ancient evil,malignant and deadly has raised its head in the Carpathian mountains. The dead are walking,the children of the night are singing. Count Dracula is on the move and no-one will feel safe again.
Was dubious about getting this book after seeing some of the negative reviews. Fortunately I purchased it any way and I'm so glad I did, the narrators are superb and the story sublime. Take my advice get this book you'll be so glad you did.
"The original Dracula."
Dracula is such a well worn trope in popular culture, anyone could be forgiven for thinking they know the character and story like the back of their hand. But listening to this excellent audiobook still manages to wield many surprises, and provides several creepy moments. The cast are all brilliant, and the book well paced with great production values.
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