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BOOK REVIEW: Side by Side Reviews of DRACUL by Dacre Stoker and J. D. Barker

“Just because nobody is there to witness such things doesn’t make them less true.”

First, let me confess that I have never read Dracula. I know I know tsk tsk!! But before you come for me, let me explain.  Dracula has always intimidated me. Anything that was written way back when has always intimidated me. I think it’s because I often find the writing hard to understand, and also a tad bit boring.  Well after listening to the audiobook for Dracul my need to read Dracula has increased.

Dracul is such an incredible prequel, it is told through a set of diary entries, switching between past and present.  We follow Bram in his earlier years as he battles sickness and is bedridden while being cared for by his nanny, Ellen Crone.  One day the nanny goes missing and it leaves Matilda, Bram’s sister, and Bram himself wondering why. The years go by and one day Matilda sees Ellen or at least she thinks she does. Bringing this sighting to her brother’s attention they both embark on a quest to find her.  This quest brings them face to face with some evil forces and their hope for survival. As I stated earlier, I listened to Dracul on audio and it was such a chilling experience. The audiobook is narrated by a full cast making it feel like you just watched a movie.  Bram’s internal moments, such as his thoughts and feelings, have such depth throughout the story which can really be felt in the narration. Let’s not even talk about those creepy moments, the narrators truly made you feel the chills.

Now, I’m off to read Dracula!  

I highly recommend this book.  A solid 5 stars from me!

Billed as a prequel to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dracul is about the life of Bram Stoker and his family. Little baby Bram was a sickly child, and his family hires a stranger of the street to care for him. Like you do. This woman, Ellan Crone, takes little boy Bram into her room for days, and when she emerges, Bram is better, but Ellan looks run down and beat up. This is the setup, Victorian Ireland, the Stoker family, and their mysterious connection to the legend of vampires.

Like the original, the story is told through journal entries and letters by various characters, and the beginning of the book hooked me. The story of young Bram and his family was fascinating to me. That said, you should know that this book is slooooow. It’s foggy and brooding and takes a long time to reveal that vampires are real. *gasp*. The book was probably about 200 pages too long, and by the end, I was ready to be finished.

A few things that I didn’t care for in Dracul are, the setting is Victorian Ireland, but the characters’ dialogue all seem to be very modern language. The journal entries do not read as if different people wrote them; the author’s voice seemed the same throughout. I was also put off by the whole “this all happened, no really, it’s all true” aspect of the book, as it just seemed weird and like Dacre Stoker may believe that vampires are really real. Those are the criticisms that entered my mind while I was reading this. All that being said, I did enjoy the story. The atmosphere quite well done, and the ending was exciting. The bottom line is, I thought this one was enjoyable, but I couldn’t get past some of its flaws to love it. If you love or even just really like Dracula, you may have a different experience than I did. 

3 stars

Matt is a middle school math teacher. He's originally from Kentucky but currently lives in Arkansas with his beautiful wife and 2-year-old son. In addition to reading dark fiction, he also enjoys board games and Disney World.

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Maybe I'm a terrible bibliophile for never have actually read Dracula but, like with most people, have seen the countless different vampire movies - most impressively so, Bram Stoker's Dracula, which you should never watch from the first row of the theater because you WILL get dizzy.  In any case, I was expecting a bit slow of a read and that is what I got.  But, I did find myself feeling that same atmosphere - the dark, foggy, whispering buzz of the night.
This book starts off pretty strong - I was racing through the journal entries just to get back to the backstory because this is where my interest was piqued the most.  I wanted to continue on the journey with the children.  Notice what they notice, find the courage with them to go looking around so they could get answers.  And once things started to really change and my interest was at its all-time high for the story - we get to part II and..... my interest started waning.  While I know the story was progressing, I started to feel it was a bit stagnant.
I can absolutely appreciate what this novel was doing and I did find it very intriguing to see the origins of the book and Dracula.  I think just for my personal taste, I needed it to move a little faster.  This isn't a knock on the book itself though because I knew what I was walking into when I started.  I think that because I was surprised by the pacing at the beginning, it started to feel a little disjointed towards the end.  
I wonder too - just how much does the author(s) really think is true and if there is a solid belief, I'm fascinated by it because of the history of vampirism and the way people looked upon it.  What do you start to make real to further your cause/belief and what actually happens that we're blissfully unaware except for when we want to escape in movies and books?

Chandra also posts reviews on her blog:
Where The Reader Grows

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