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!
My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.
Let me start with the performance. All of the narrators are professionals, not a amateur in that batch. The add very much to the book. If you by chance have never read it, this would be the edition to listen to.
THE WOMEN LOOKED PRETTY EXCEPT WHEN YOU GOT NEAR THEM
I really debated on how to rate this book. If it was not for Stoker, we would not have all the movies, books and TV shows that have followed it. No Buffy the Vampire Slayer, no Hammersmith movies, no Count Dracula cereal etc...It is all here along with many things you may have forgotten. I had forgotten the part where Dracula climbed head first down a castle wall. Did you know Dracula had hairy palms? So, this gets five stars for creating such a great character. I gave the story three stars, as I was thinking about Today's Reader. The book is made up of letters and journals and almost everything is something that has already happened and your getting a personal account of it. This was popular during Stoker's time, but it is rarely done today. For today's reader it is way too long. A lot of it reads like a soap opera. I was sick of Lucy, hours before she was finally done in. I was ready to cut her head off myself.
I LOVE YOU, YOU LOVE ME
This is a must read or listen due to the historical aspect. It also has great language. I love listening to how people talked during this time. I loved the manners used in speaking, it is lovingly written. I was also amazed in how often the word love and lover were used.
I KNOW NOT WHY
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 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.
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.
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!
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 write for myself, for my own pleasure. And I want to be left alone to do it. - 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).
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