Winner of the AudioFile Earphones Award in 1999
This blood-curdling tale of blood-thirsty vampires continues to hold audiences spellbound more than a century after its publication.
Summoned to assist with legal matters regarding a real estate transaction, young Englishman Jonathan Harker journeys to the dismal, dreary castle of Count Dracula in Transylvania. The fledgling solicitor is completely unprepared for what he will discover in the days to come—and the horrifying chain of events sparked by his unsettling stay with the mysterious Count.
The Dracula mythology has inspired a vast subculture, but the story has never been better told than by Bram Stoker. He succeeds entirely in his aim to terrify. His myth is powerful because it allows evil to remain mysterious, unconquerable by strength of mind or virtuous action. Van Helsing’s high-thinking and scientific skill cannot resist the dreadful potency of the undead. The high virtue of Lucy can simply be drained away, as her blood is drained away, until she too joins the vampire brood. Only the old magic—a crucifix, garlic, a wooden stake—can provide effective weapons against the Count’s appalling power.
“One of the most powerful horror tales ever written.”
Malcolm Bradbury, English author and academic
“In seeking a parallel to this weird, powerful, and horrorful story our mind reverts to such tales as The Mysteries of Udolpho, Frankenstein, The Fall of the House of Usher…but Dracula is even more appalling in its gloomy fascination than any one of these.”
“Whitfield’s competence is apparent in the retelling of Dracula. He wisely eschews over-dramatization, despite the horror story’s emotional extremes, resulting in a performance that generates even more impact for this classic.”
“The world’s best-known vampire story comes to life in this expert performance by Simon Vance. His subtle shading of voice gives complete personality and motivation to each of the eight protagonists…For a classic performance of a classic work, this production must not be missed.”
3 out of 3 (100%) recommend this productWrite a review
Thank You, DownpourNovember 11, 2013My advice to every young man starting out in life is this: when reading—or listening—turn a cold eye on the Jane Austen spin-offs, avoid the Game-of-Thrones-esque “medieval” bodice-rippers, steer clear of James Patterson’s latest, stacked like so many cans of creamed corn at the entrance of the local bookstore. Instead, read Northanger Abbey and Sense and Sensibility; pore over the original Arthurian romances penned by Chretien de Troyes in the late 12th Century; and listen to Conan Doyle and John Buchan—the giants on whose shoulders the James Pattersons, Stephen Kings, Patricia Cornwells And Dean Koontzs of the world stand.
I recommend the same line with vampires. If what I see on the train and the audiobook sites are any indication, the world is awash in vampire-fueled fiction. Teenage vampires. Mutant vampires. Rogue vampires. Human vampire hunters. Vampires that hunt other vampires. And, of course, vampires that hunt humans. I’ve often wondered what lies at the bottom of all this. Where is the “Ur” text, if you will, that spawned all these vampire variants?
And when Downpour offered the original tale, the granddaddy of them all, the book that set the current literary avalanche in motion, (for free, no less), I had my answer.
I understand that there are works drawing on vampire lore and legend that predate Stoker’s. And I know that at the time Stoker’s book was but one of many dealing with bizarre creatures and harrowing situations—that, in effect, he was one of the Stephen Kings of his day. But Stoker’s book is still regarded as the original tale, the granddaddy of them all. And to listen to it was to get beyond the Hollywood hokum and the post-modern re-brandings to a riveting story of Good engaged in desperate battle against Evil.
Inundated as we are in vampire books, films, comic books, children’s toys, breakfast cereals, Halloween costumes, tea cozies and needlepoint samplers, it’s easy for us to look at a guy with sharp incisors and pointy ears who lives in an abandoned castle in the Carpathian mountains of Transylvania and say “look out, he’s a vampire!” But what makes the book so engaging and plausible—and the count so fearful—is the gradual, almost grudging way our good doctors come to the incredible, almost impossible conclusion that what they are dealing with actually is a vampire.
Hearing the count act normally (inquiring into the advisability of hiring more than one lawyer in England, for instance, or deprecating his own command of English) makes more expected scenes—as when Jonathan Harker sees him crawling headfirst down the side of his castle—even more terrifying. Stoker manages to blend the pedestrian with the gothic in a way that makes both seem—for lack of a better term—natural.
Of course being a Victorian, Stoker can’t help but write like a Victorian. There is much earnest, extended discussion, many ardent vows and much noble, overwrought sentiment. Yes, it gets a little tedious at times. But it’s a portal into a world we have abandoned, and some of our tedium may really be discomfort at the thought that we couldn’t live out the virtues the story exemplifies.
Being a good Victorian, Stoker draws Mina Harker as a brilliant, insightful woman who contributes largely to the count’s eventual overthrow—and the only character who extends Christian charity to him, thus shaming the men. That part should sit pretty well with us. But, being a good Victorian, Stoker also believes that real women are beautiful, delicate and virtuous—not wanton, licentious and shameless. As such, they are in need of protection from strong, virtuous, selfless, unashamedly masculine men who don’t spend too much time on their hair. This may not sit so well with us. I found it a refreshing change from our current social milieu—and, I’m guessing, from much of what can be found in the current crop of vampire sagas.
Thank you, Downpour, for offering a great performance of a classic tale for free.
Classic horrorOctober 23, 2013By today's standards this book might seem a bit cheesy, but in its day it was probably terrifying. The culture hadn't been saturated with vampire stories to the point of ridiculousness back then. I actually really enjoyed this book, and Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is a fantastic narrator. His voice was perfect for this audiobook.
A bit dated, but still pretty goodApril 7, 2013Some of the more supernatural elements of Dracula---bats flapping against windows, his ability to control and turn into mist, etc.---strike today's reader as rather more silly than terrifying. Stoker seems aware of this, as he includes a lot of nonsense to the effect that there are things of which science is not aware, and we can only rely on faith and tradition in dealing with them. Still, Dracula is in my experience of higher literary quality than the vast majority of the many vampire novels that have come since, even those that downplay or at least try to explain the supernatural aspects of vampire mythology.
There are several interesting characters here, including, of course, Van Helsing, and also the Texan Quincey Morris (who was absent from all of the adaptations I'd encountered before actually reading the original novel), but particularly Mina Harker, who in some respects is almost a sort of proto-feminist character. And the scenes with Renfield in Seward's insane asylum are genuinely creepy.
Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with over forty Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.
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- Publisher: Craig Black
- Genre: Fiction/Classics
- ISBN-13: 978-1-4551-7433-1