Book Review: Dracula Retold...He's out for blood.
Title: Dracula Retold
Author: S G D Singh
I have a secret. It's a secret that I'm not proud of, but I fear it must be said. I have never read the original Dracula, nor have I seen any of the classic movies with said name. I've heard the name, of course, and I do like vampires, but this story is not one I have yet to delve into so, my opinions and thoughts are completely separate from the original as I have never experienced it and, therefore, am unable to compare the two versions.
What's it about?
Told through multiple viewpoints through the medium of journals kept by a number of characters all friends or friends of friends, this is the story of how a group of wise, courageous, and determined individuals who find themselves entwined in the deadly web of Count Dracula himself, with a survivor's necessity to defeat the count himself. But that's easier said then done, for sure, as the Count is cunning, strong and always manages to be one step ahead. Will this group, brought together through death, love and a purpose fueled by life itself, manage to make it through to the break of dawn and save the world from pure evil himself?
Dr. Van Helsing himself. Yes, this might be a little cliche, but let me explain. I did not come to like him simply for his knowledge of the supernatural and ability to fight said beings. Nope. My affection from him comes from his empathy and quick-to-love heart. I like him for his ability to know that one can not thrust knowledge upon others and expect them to accept it and act upon it, but rather that knowledge comes form a journey to obtain it and that to hear the words themselves does not elicit the same behavior in everyone. I love his great ability to guide those around him to find their own answers and make their own choice. That, combined with his somewhat charming broken English that continues to be consistent throughout the whole story.
I also really liked Mina. Mina was strong willed, brave and always filled with gentle wisdom and a kind heart. She had many reasons to be angry, yet she never yet it rule her or cloud her judgment. She could have easily acted in the name of vengeance, though she remained pure and almost seemingly untouched by those negative emotions that would have swallowed so many of us. She was adept at taking charge but knew when to sit back and let someone else take the reigns.
Least favorite Character: I know I'm just jumping into the country of cliche, but my least favorite character is Dracula. Yes, I know. How surprising, right? Well, it actually did surprise me some. Before I cracked this book open, I expected to hate Dracula right form the start, however, upon meeting him, I kind of liked him. He was charming and intriguing. He was elegant and friendly. I hoped like him and, while I didn't hate him as much as I anticipated, I sure didn't like him as much as I thought I would from his appearance at the beginning.
Favorite Journal authors: As I said before, this story is told through a collection of journal entries from many of the characters. Some events were then, depicted through the eyes of more then one person. Because of this, and the the fact that each author writes in their own voice, I chose to forgo the usual "Favorite part" section for "Favorite journal authors" part.
One of my favorite authors was the dictations by Dr. Jack Seward transcribed into writing. I think the reason I liked his entries is because he's a psychologist and tends to see things through a psychological lens. Of course, his discussion of a patient of his, Reinfield, doesn't hurt as, as disturbing as Reinfield may be, he kind of fascinates me. In fact, I kind of wish we had gotten to know him more.
Then there's Mina, who I think is my absolute favorite journal creator. It is through these journal entries, primarily, that I found my affection for her.
"No human can know how sweet and how dear the morning is until he has suffered through the night." (pg. 44) This was the first quote that stood out to me. Those of you who know me, can probably guess why I like this one so much. I do tend to have an affinity for positive quotes that emphasize better times on the horizon. However, it's also something I believe in. We must find our way into, and then out of, darkness in order to really appreciate the light again on the other side.
"Take good not of it. Nothing is too small. Record even your doubts and guesses. Then afterwards it will be of interest how true you guess. We learn from our failure, not from our success!" (pg. 124) It is the last part of this quote that really hooked me. It's that prefect reminder that, while successes are important and do help us to learn, we learn more from our failures and our wrong answers and that is what pushes us towards the right answers. I also liked that this also alludes that what we think is wrong, is not always wrong. In fact, sometimes it's exactly the right answer masquerading as a wrong one.
"...But you cannot work in hate." she said, her purity shining bright against our anger. "This poor soul who has caused all this misery-he is the saddest care of all. You must be compassionate toward him. Show mercy, even as you destroy him. As you free him." (pg. 286) This may be one of the moments that I decided that Mina is, in fact, my favorite character with Dr. Van Helsing. It's such a perfect illustration of love winning over hate, of good defeating evil. It is a clear, freshly cleaned window into a pure soul content and determined not to be blemished by anything lesser.
What other thoughts do I have?
This was not at all what I expected to find when I opened this book at all. I actually expected a creepy, horror filled story of a woman trapped in a mid evil castle being forced to become Dracula's blood and love slave as she develops a winning sense of Munchhausen's as she falls in love with him. And, on the other side of those thick, stone walls stands Van Helsing plotting an attack to rescue the prisoner within.
Yea...that's not what I found. Instead, I found a collection of fun, smart, strong individuals all banded together through their own experiences with the monster known as Dracula. It was a storm of emotions poured out through words as you bounce from one person to another. However, as much as I enjoyed that, and maybe this is just me, but there were times when I found the bounce between journals, sometimes forgetting who's journal I am reading, especially when I had stopped reading for the day to come back again the next day.
Then there's the fear factor. I just didn't feel like it had it. Like, at all. Maybe it wasn't meant to, or maybe my expectations were unreasonable but I expected to be fearful, don't turn the light out level of fearful but I wasn't. I didn't even feel like Dracula was truly the center of the story, but that the group was (which I didn't hate, to be honest) and that Dracula was the tool to get them all banded together. It was an odd retaliation to find when I expected something so different. I wouldn't say that I disliked that at all, but it just...threw me for a loop.
All in all, I liked this book. I even kind of liked that it wasn't what I had expected it to be. It was fun, different and a different world. While I don't think that I'll be seeking out stories told through a collection of journals written by a number of people, it was a refreshing escape from normal novel form and I would be happy to recommend this book to any vampire lovers or Dracula enthusiasts!
What do I rate it?
I give this book a
5 garlic flowers