If you find yourself at home on a long, rainy weekend – perhaps the fire is going, all your friends are out of town, and there's just you and the cat – I highly recommend losing yourself in the original vampire story, Dracula (insert - thunderclap).
Dracula by Bram Stoker, the perfect read for a rainy weekend
If you're a reader of classics, you'll appreciate the dark symbolism and poetic language employed by Stoker. If not, it's one classic you'll enjoy with its sinister yet saucy tale.
The novel is a well-known gothic tale about the elusive Count Dracula. It's written in an epistolary style, which means it's composed of diary entries, letters, newspaper articles and so on. This style makes it interesting as we read about the strange events and characters from different perspectives, and we're left wondering which perspectives are reliable (insert- eerie music).
We're introduced to the story by Jonathan Harker, a young solicitor who travels to Transylvania to meet with Dracula on business, and we learn immediately that there's something very strange about the Count, and Harker should be afraid for his life. The narrative then switches back to England where Harker's fiancé, Mina, and her friend Lucy, wonder what has happened to Jonathan when he is delayed in Transylvania. They also muse upon the mysterious arrival of a ship, with one dead body on board. The simultaneous sightings of a large black dog have the town of Whitby in a flap. A strange sequence of events plays out, first with Lucy, then with Mina. The two young women are acting in a most unusual manner.
The dark settings offer another level of 'horror' to this gothic classic. Dracula's castle is filled with impossible shadows and things that go bump in the night, and then there's the horrors of the asylum for the insane, where strange apparitions appear at windows to feed on willing patients.
Dracula's castle, one of the many brilliantly gothic settings in the tale
The thing that keeps you turning the pages and making you want to know more is the lack of explicit reference. Stoker alludes to sexuality and horror in symbolic ways, making it all the more tantalising and just plain scary. The word 'Vampire' is barely mentioned, and so we wonder, along with Harker, who or what Dracula is.
Here's a favourite passage:
"... my very feelings changed to repulsion and terror when I saw the whole man slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall over that dreadful abyss, face down, with his cloak spreading out around him like great wings. At first I could not believe my eyes. I thought it was some trick of the moonlight, some weird effect of shadow; but I kept looking, and it could be no delusion. I saw the fingers and toes grasp the corners of the stones, worn clear of the mortar by the stress of years, and by thus using every projection and inequality move downwards with considerable speed, just as a lizard moves along a wall."
Isn't it thrilling?