Aaaaand on to the first re-read of the year. I am a BIG Dracula fan. I took my time getting about to reading it the first time, and held off until I was 20. Basically I was still in the teenage phase of not wanting to like something because everyone said it was good so I didn't read it (so many regrets) until way after pretty much everyone on my uni course had given it a go.
Anyhow, the first time around I read it for a first wave feminism module at uni and it was so interesting to approach the book from that perspective. This time around, however, my reading felt a little less focused and it allowed me the chance to notice a whole lot that I'd overlooked the first time around.
Dracula begins when Jonathan Harker travels to Transylvania on business to meet a Count. When he arrives, the locals seem to fear him, wearing garlic around their necks and crossing themselves. He is attacked by wolves on his way to the Count's castle, but saved by the Count himself. Once he's there, he begins to notice that things aren't how you would expect. He never sees the Count during the day, most of the castle is closed off to him, and Jonathan ultimately realises he's trapped.
Back in England, his betrothed Mina Harker is staying with her closest friend Lucy Westenra, who is trying to deal with the (so hard) problem of having three very different men seeking her hand in marriage. However, soon Lucy's behaviour starts to become very concerning. She sleepwalks, and when she returns to her bed she seems pale and almost lifeless.
Soon begins a battle between one of the most esteemed doctors of the time, Professor Van Helsing, and a force making nightly visits to Lucy, intent on draining her blood ...
This is one of the key Gothic horror novels, sitting alongside the likes of The Monk, Frankenstein and Edgar Allen Poe's poetry. It has all of the key elements of being an OG Gothic novel: a gloomy moody setting, supernatural elements, the sublime, the question of morality vs depravity, and a side helping of sexually depraved women. The language isn't too dense or antiquated, and whilst the book is quite lengthy, it does switch between various narratives to keep you on your toes.
I am such a big fan of the book, and would put it in my top ten all-time reads. I love how much popular fiction has come from the idea of Dracula put forward in this book, and thinking about how much of an impact it has had globally and across time just blows my mind. Basically, if you want to get into Gothic fiction (who doesn't?), this is a great book to start with, or use to delve deeper into the genre.