Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Review by Shellie: Dracula ~ by Bram Stoker (audio version)

 

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"I am Dracula, and I bid you welcome . . . "

An enduring classic with an extremely charming, truly evil, yet almost human monster. I suggest leaving the lights on.

Synopsis:   With a Victorian setting in the late 19th century, a newly practicing attorney/solicitor from England is commissioned to visit a new client for his firm. He is to meet with this wealthy gentleman and stay at his castle in the mountains of Transylvania, while giving him advice on property acquisitions within the UK. The journey starts out decently for Jonathan Harker, but “red flags” pop up as he is warned by the locals and experiences eerie events during his journey to the Count’s country estate.

When he reaches his destination things are not as he was lead to believe. He finds that the Count himself is misleading and extremely intelligent, with a business savvy to match. Most disturbing is when Harker realizes the castle has no servants, parts are in complete ruin, he sees the count doing not very human things, and it appears that he is in fact a prisoner with in the castle. When he finally returns home, the young lawyer is beside himself, and worse yet it appears that he may have been followed. This scary story has only just begun.

Thoughts:   This is a wonderful tale which deserves to be read by anyone interested in classics, horror, and evil vampires. That it was written over 100 years ago and the emotions it incurs are still heart quickening, attest to the universal nature of this horror story and make it an enduring classic.

Set partially in Whitby, an amazing town on the East coast of England with iconic structures which still exist today, the story includes a variety of interesting and well developed characters, with our main character the Count, who is the evil embodiment of a sociopathic killer.

It is all told in letter format - epistolary or diary entries with each character well developed and interesting. Listening to the book in audio format, the telling is done via various voices and is close to perfect - old English accents, changing for each of the characters. I enjoyed it immensely. 

As for rating this classic I would say 4.5 stars. I recommend this version if you decide audio is the way to go for you.

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Some Information about Whitby via travel pictures.

Below are pictures which John and I took in 2009 on one of our many visits to England where he is from.  When experiencing this book in its audio format these images helped it come alive for me. I could not help visualize this setting as it was described by the author. Also included below are several links to festivals based in the area, and a picture of our brother in law in full Dracula regalia at one such event which occurred last year in the town.

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Whitby is on the Eastern side of Northern England. Set on the North Sea. The water is wild and choppy and very cold even in summer. This picture was taken from the pier which is located at the bay/river mouth and is a Southern outcrop of highland. Making this a perfect spot to watch incoming ships or marauders in this ancient  port city. It is also the spot where the gorgeous abbey is located,

This was taken during the summer June 2009. It was truly cold and windy, the norm for the area. Further to right on the mesa  you can actual see the little bits of the abbey’s spires. It is a key feature in several of the settings described in Dracula.

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Above are two pictures of the ancient abbey. They are described in the book exactly as they are pictured here. It was lovely walking through and inside the abbey, looking up at the architecture. Here is the historical setting for the spot:

The first monastery here was founded in AD 657 by King Oswy of Northumbria. An Anglo-Saxon style 'double monastery' for men and women, its first ruler was the formidable royal princess Abbess Hild. Here, Caedmon the cowherd was miraculously transformed into an inspired poet; here, the future of the English church was decided by the Synod of Whitby in 664; and here the relics of Northumbrian kings and saints were enshrined.

from the non profit site – English Heritage.org.

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These are pictures of the hillside town walking down from on top of the plateau where the abbey is situated. We walked down on the cobbled streets from a very very old cemetery that is West from the abbey. On the left you can see across the channel and to the left the man made water breaker, which prevent the wild waters from coming into the river/bay. This water way is an  important setting within the book as well.15137_328923465230_904925230_9798285_6353174_n

To the right is my English brother in law, dressed as Dracula at a local festival held in Whitby, which the entire family attended.

If you are interested further, there is a gothic blog called Dracula in Whitby which gives you up to date information on a variety of festivals happening in the area.

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  • Audio CD
  • Brilliance Audio on CD Unabridged; Unabridged edition (September 25, 2005)
  • Genre: Classic Horror

    Amazon purchasing links - US/UK/Canada or The Book Depository - AUD and Euro.

    This book will be included in The Speculative Fiction Challenge, Fill in the Gaps, New Author, The Basics, and I am going to sneak it into the RIP V challenge even though it should have been included last year since I think all would love to see the Whitby pictures.

    Happy Almost Halloween Everyone!

  • 6 comments:

    Lisa said...

    Hey Shellie!
    I have always wanted to read this! Your review has reminded me, and what a perfect time of year for it. I LOVE your fall spooky header to, btw. The picks of Whitby are georgous, I love old ruins like that.

    :0)

    Shellie - Layers of Thought said...

    Lisa -
    This audio version is really great. I loved it. But its taken me a year to write the review...

    The ruins are amazing.

    Thanks about the header. Its been so much fun. I will have a new one up after the spooky time of year.

    Will be by your blog soon to get updated on your recent reads and happenings!

    Amanda Makepeace said...

    I read Dracula so many years ago! It might be fun to have someone read it to me! Will definitely look for this version.

    Shellie - Layers of Thought said...

    Amanda -
    I loved being read to as a child. So I love audio books. Besides the classics are easier for me this way. I have a problem focusing and sitting still for the old stuff... well the new stuff too but the classics are just tough for me.

    This is a really good version. I rented it for my ipod at our local digital library. Which is awesome here in the Phoenix area.

    I think you would enjoy it. :)

    Your should paint a picture of the Abbey!

    Sandy said...

    I read this book a long time ago. In my opinion, it's unbeatable in terms of creating a chilling atmosphere. Great review, Shellie!

    Shellie - Layers of Thought said...

    Cheers Sandy...
    I am so behind on classics.

    It was really great in this audio format too. If your interested in a re-read.... :)

    Thanks for stopping by.

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