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.
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.
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.
I have 220 titles in my library and this is in the top 10. Fantastic. Very well produced and having never read the original I was amazed at the pace and excitement of the story. Highly recommended!
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.
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!
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).
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!
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.
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.
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.
"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
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"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.
"Drama, tension and Dracula"
A great cast lend a dramatic air to a true Gothic tale of love, fear, madness and terror.
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