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:
Alan Cumming as Dr. Seward
Simon Vance as Jonathan Harker
Katy Kellgren as Mina Murray/Harker
Susan Duerden as Lucy Westenra
Tim Curry as Van Helsing
Graeme Malcolm as Dailygraph correspondent
Steven Crossley as Zookeeper’s account and reporter
Simon Prebble as Varna
James Adams as Patrick Hennessey
Nicola Barber as Sister Agatha
Victor Villar-Hauser as Arthur Holmwood
Marc Vietor as Quincey Morris
John Lee as Introductory paragraph, various letters
Public Domain (P)2014 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)
This was well worth it. Alan Cumming is a favorite and so versatile. Tim Curry never disappoints. The only thing missing from Audible's production is a cast list. I recognized some narrators that I had listen to before, but think they all deserve credit for the job well done. Lucy's naivety, and Minna steadfast strength for instance deserve crediting. I was disappointed when this was not a part of the concluding credits.
If other reviewers could not be swept up in the production, perhaps it is due to a distaste for the genre. I like a good vampire tale as much as the next person, but this sheds so much light on how far we have come from the mother of all tales, where more is implied than exposed.
Hearing the final words, "Audible hopes you enjoyed.." it's hard to resist vigorously clapping your hands together and jumping to your feet to whoop out a "Bravo!" While it looks like some reviewers are more familiar with the particulars of each narrator, I must be less fussy; I thought it was a perfect cast that produced a dark gothic atmosphere that Stoker would call worthy of this masterpiece.
The story is longer than I thought it would be, the flowery speech style of the Victorian era no doubt adding to the length of the journals/diaries of each articulate character, that comprise the tale -- a style that, if you are unprepared for, may be too verbose to your liking (but authentic to the time--think Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, Oscar Wilde, William Butler Yeats). Where one during that period might say:
"Dear Madam, by God, your neck! May perhaps I suggest more wreaths of the garlic flowers to be festooned around your lovely neck to prohibit a further attack from this most vile blood-sucking fiendish creature of the night which has befallen upon you most unfairly, dear sweet lady?"
We today, 100 years later, might say:
"Huh, vampire bite. Want some garlic (was he sparkly)?"
You can see how this could take up some pages. But the profuse Victorian vernacular combined with the fine reading puts you in the necessary frame of mind -- where a dark red-eyed character in a cape could creep around a deteriorating castle, summon wolves from the fog, and morph into a bat flapping against a pane of glass. (It was a little amusing listening to the breathy and fragile Lucy and Mina...considering the time frame in which this was written. While Stoker had them helplessly swooning away, across the pond, Susan B. Anthony was gathering her own minions.)
Bram Stoker truly affected history with this book -- Audible's production was a great homage to a literary icon as well as a fun engaging production, well worth the purchase.
Double Major in Criminal Justice/Crime Scene Investigation With A Minor in Psychology and Early Childhood Education
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.
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.
All the seasoned actors and narrators.
Anyone Tim Curry plays will always be my favorite character. All the narrators do an excellent job.
That they are all such season actors that listening to them makes you feels as though you are really there.
Tim Curry. Does one need a reason?
You can't go wrong with this audiobook. Simon Vance, Simon Prebble, Alan Cumming....honestly, could a book get any better than this. This is well worth the credit!
I love this edition for many reasons, but mainly because it is an accurate rendition of Stoker's novel. Every film version changes the story somewhat, and this edition does not. Readers get the treat of the accurate story along with great narration.
I love Tim Curry's voice, and think he does an excellent job.
Reading the book deprives you of the emotional range the human voice is capable of that add so much detail and color to the 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.
Eclectic mixer of books of my youth and ones I always meant to read, but didn't.
This truly is a revelation. I had read the book many years before, of course, but I had never really appreciated the way the story was told in correspondence. I suspect that lack of appreciation is a testament to Bram Stocker's skills as a storyteller and to my lack of acuity. Whatever the reason, hearing the tale told through the words of the correspondents makes it so much more intimate and exciting. It puts the Twilight Saga and True Blood in their place as pieces for their time and generations, but confirms the traditional view of Dracula, van Helsing and Transalvania as everlasting pieces of literature for all time and a mature audience. In the parlance of the present cinema, it's M15+ verging on R, but not for the sensuality (although that is there) or the viloence (of which there is an abundance), but for the themes.
As for the production, it is first class. For me it was Simon Vance and Katy Kellgren who shone; more so even than the named principals. Alan Cumming was as good as ever. Tim Curry really didn't have enough of a part to make a real impression, more's the pity. Van Helsing is really seen through others' eyes. So the Harkers stole the show. In retrospect, that's not suprising, but I had (wrongly) expected more from the principals. I also missed a voice for Dracula (because he is not a correspondent, of course). I thought Vance captured his intonation beautifully when he recounted the conversations between the Count and Harker, but with Borsi Karlof, Frank Langella and others in mind, it would have been nice to hear him speak. Alas, that was a legitimate sacrifice for the lierarary device that Stoker adopted and which this production brings to life.
Rating scale: 5=Loved it, 4=Liked it, 3=Ok, 2=Disappointed, 1=Hated it. I look for well developed characters, compelling stories.
I am one of many who have only known the infamous Count through Hollywood productions. Horror has never been my favorite genre, and I found Bela Lugosi too campy, and Gary Oldman too bizarre for either to be very frightening. The only motivation I had to even select this book was my admiration of most of the fine cast and the rave reviews for a classic. A majority of reviewers have already praised the reading, and I will simply say that I concur.
What made this an outstanding story to me is that the count is NOT the central character. The mistake the films made was in making the best written characters mere supporting players to the count whom we see the least of. The power of Dracula is his lack of physical presence – half the thrill is the anticipation, and Stoker plays that card better than the film makers ever did. His tale is robust with the superstitions and beliefs of the day, whether religious, medical, psychological, criminal or supernatural, giving it a wonderful period feeling. There is enough detail to spark the imagination, and enough restraint to let the imagination provide the fear. By learning the story through the diaries and letters of the principal characters, we are intimately caught up in their horror, giving us someone and something to root for.
The writing is excellent and surprisingly moving, especially as the group of friends mourn the loss of a loved one and pledge their lives to banish the evil that caused such sorrow. There is plenty of adventure as the chase is on to end Dracula's reign of terror and free one of their own from his grasp. This could be a story about any group of everyday people finding the moral courage to fight any sort of evil and is a much more universal story than I had imagined. I loved this band of comrades, and I am so glad I took a chance on this classic.
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!
A brilliant performance of this wonderful book. How could it be otherwise with Tim Curry and the rest of the cast? Characterisation good and storytelling just too good to pause. Stoker at his quirky, articulate best.
I loved every minute a great story with a fantastic cast. hooked right to the end!
"Classic Gothic Horror at it's Best"
This is a great edition of the original vampire story, rather than the book this makes it an audio play, which is well cast and even though audible your imagination still gets drawn into the story. With the different narrators playing the parts it makes it more of a play than just a story and the fact it is based on the original book where it is made up of journal entries was fantastic.
The final battle was well played out, with the same story running through the different points of view.
I think the Doctor and nina were the best performances and the bigger characters of the story.
I did get lost sometimes as the characters did there own voices when relaying what another character said and the type of accent changed a lot for Van Helsing, even though it didn't take away from the story it would have been better if everyone stayed with an accent which was more the same.
I would recommend this audio book because it is more than the normal book, with the different narrators playing all the characters. A great addition to my audio library.
"A good listen but poor editing"
I do like this audiobook but it does have it's issues. The actress reading Lucy has a very bizarre voice, it sounds like Lisa Simpson doing an impersonation of Mary Poppins channeling Marilyn Monroe!
The other actors are great but there are some passages in part one, Dr Seward and Mina's diaries where the actors have obviously reread the lines and these have not been edited out so some parts are repeated, really should have been "proof listened"
It's certainly one of the better ones. I guess we all think we know the story - and in a way we probably do - but this version really brings out the quality of Stoker's writing.
The descriptions Stoker gives of Dracula's castle, and of the race leading up to his final downfall (I hope I haven't spoilt the story for you!).
"It's a cliche beater!"
The full cast narration was one of the best features of this audiobook. All accomplished and convincing audio actors, they do a great job of establishing empathy with the characters and creating a real sense of impulsion to the story. I expected cliched and over played 'horror' story. The reality was much more subtle and engaging. There was nothing not to like!
The most interesting aspect of the plot was the team of individuals that came together to bring Dracula down. Least interesting were the somewhat forced plugs given to the 'surprising' ability of a woman who masters both shorthand and typewriting to help her husband with his work!
The ghost ship sailing into port. Fabulous tension.
Yes. I went so far as to hire the DVD of the 1998 film. What a travesty! Camped up and totally unwatchable.
Twilight it's not. Thank goodness.
I had never read the book and my only knowledge of the story is the 1990 film starring Gary Oldman which I hadn't particularly enjoyed.
As is often the case the book is actually so much better. A tense and horrifying tale that had me on the edge of my seat throughout and shutting the window and checking under the bed at night!
Brought to life by an excellent cast, Tim Curry as Van Helsing stood out for me particularly although all the voice actors did an amazing job at building the tension.
"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.
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