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.
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!
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.
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.
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 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.
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!
I consume literature. I drive a semi-truck/tanker and have lots of time between my destinations so a good book is essential to my well being
Alan Cumming and Tim Curry are two of my favorite actors so it really enriched the experience. Having people reading with real British accents was also nice.
I'm not going to compare it to other books, the style was unique to me.
Tim Curry's yes, much better this time.
The Evil Bloodsucker Must Die
I had a good time listening to this audiobook, I can't believe anyone would have had a problem listening to it. I could really get a feel for the age it was representing with the readers using their native accents.
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).
"The Frasier cast read Dracula - Badly"
I love the story. It's the only good part of this production. All the Narrators are dreadful. It's as if they've only heard English accents on episodes of Frasier. I swear one of the narrators was Daphne Moon. Not one narrator seems to have put any effort into this production. A shame considering the cast.
The voices. Make them stop.
The accents. So v badly done. Also they appeared to be narrating as if they've never seen the text before.
Avoid this. By the description, I thought it was an all-star cast play of the book. It's just a variety of readers going through the text as ineffectively as possible while thinking about their pay checks.
Oh God Yes!
It is beautifully true to the original. Their was a sense of the times delivered in the performances. The atmosphere was also deliciously conveyed in the audio background.
The nature of the book is too have many perspectives and each of the narrators/actors was wonderful in their delivery. It is also very refreshing and dynamic to have the different voices journey you through the story.
This is a classic that will be revisited several times in my life.
"Kallgren lowers the rating"
They need to stop using her for English women. It's uncomfortable to listen to and such a shame as I love this book and the rest of the cast do so well. I toyed with giving up, as I have done with previous books she's narrated, but Cumming and Curry are just so good. Really is a shame about Kallgren, I'm sure she's a great narrator when tackling accents closer to her own. But these are just so painfully forced.
"I love vampires"
great book, love this story. very well narrated. it was a pleasure to listen to.
"Well worth listening to"
Everyone has heard of Dracula. Everyone has seen at least one film, But how many people have bothered with the original book?
This a great retelling of the original with the cast delivering excellent performances. There are some genuinely creepy elements to the book which explains why it grabbed the imagination, However, I also found the character of Lucy irritating which does take away a bit from the story, However I would recommend that you try this if you want to find out what the fuss is about and why it is a classic
"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.
"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.
"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.
"Good, but some miscast voices and dull chapters"
The first half, full of the bizarre horrors of Dracula's castle and the slow build towards his journey to England, is great. Even after all these years, it's some really creepy and atmospheric text, which the cast do a very good job of conveying. Unfortunately, I thought that the second half could really drag on at times, with far too much time being spent on long, dull monologues about how lovely Mina is and how everyone loves her for being so lovely. The last couple of chapters seemed to be more concerned with train schedules and further discussion of Mina's loveliness, rather than building up to a satisfying climax.
The cast all does a very good at voicing the various journals, diaries, telegrams, and newspapers that make up the book, however the voice actor for Jonathan Harker sounds far too old for the part. I got used to this and accepted it because he was a great narrator, yet it still felt like an odd bit of casting. Also, you see "Tim Curry as Van Helsing" and think about all the great speeches that Van Helsing has, right? Well, Tim Curry doesn't actually say any of them! I would guess that over half of Van Helsing's dialogue is written in Mina's diary, which means that Mina's actress is the one who has to speak them with a not-quite-the-same-accent-Tim-Curry-is-doing accent. I can't blame the casting for this and the actress is a good enough narrator that you just get used to it, but it's still very disappointing that Curry isn't really given anything interesting to work with.
The actress foorr. Luu-see. Has a strange-lee hypnotic waay. Of taalk-iing. I doe-n't knooww hooww. Best tooo. Des-cribe iit.
To be fair, I think she's just overdoing the "sweet and delicate" voice early in the story, because she does sound much more natural later on and actually gives a very touching performance by the end. The rest of the cast are far more consistent and I have to give credit to the actress for Mina, because her many chapters include a lot of different characters and she does a great job of managing all of them (except for what I think was meant to be a Yorkshire accent that she tries to do for a character early on, which was absolutely terrible). Also, Alan Cumming deserves top billing for Dr Steward, as his chapters tended to be the highlights.
Talk like Lucy in public places and then get asked to leave by very concerned staff.
An enthralling adaptation of what could have been a very complex book. the original is a classic but also betrays it's age and period.
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