This is a Halloween Book Week guest post from Adele of Circus Queen.
Earlier this year, my husband bought me a Kindle because, for someone who claims they like to read, I actually don’t read very much. Unfortunately, this coincided with us going through a rather skint period so, Kindle in hand, I still couldn’t afford to buy any reading material. So, I’ve made the most of the free ebooks available.
While on holiday, I stumbled across Dracula in the free collection. I could hardly believe I hadn’t read it. You don’t understand. I do the vampire thing. You can probably get me to watch most things if you tell me there’ll be some blood suckers hanging about. And yes, I mean that. I’m currently following the latest season of Vampire Diaries despite the fact that the script and plot (is there one anymore?) keeps deteriorating and neither were impressive to begin with.
That said, reading vampires I’ve not done. It’s probably because reading scares me a lot more than watching. When I read a book, my imagination fills in all the details. The sights and sounds of no film can match those of the imagination. It’s a terrifying place.
Even so, I expected to plod laboriously through Dracula. A centuries-old novel, I was expecting it to be dry and possibly hard work because I’d grown lazy in my reading habits. Even as I type this I there’s an itch in my throat to say: I hold a MASTERS in English Literature! I like my reading easy, though. Children, I tell ye. This is what they do to your powers of concentration.
Anyway, how wrong I was about the book. I lived inside that book and had to know what would happen next. My stomach was filled with sick dread at the thought of the vampire. My heart sank at the fall of his victims. The hunt for him became mine. The hatred was palpable.
I began to reflect on how this famed story, simultaneously too well-known and too little-known, compares with the vampires with which we’re deluged on the screen and in pop novels such as Twilight.
Everything about modern vampire depictions is open and obvious. They’re so oversexed that they’re not sexy, not really. Dracula has a real sense of mystery about him. He is completely other, monstrous in his lack of humanisation, terrifying in the way he carefully targets and preys on the lives of beautiful young women.
He’s scary because we can’t identify with him. Dracula himself is hardly in the book. We spend more time following the people who talk about him and hunt him than with the monster himself.
There’s nothing to connect us, no way in that we might feel he’s really misunderstood.
He’s a proper old-school baddie. Leaving aside the slightly racist undertones in the novel, I quite like my baddies like Dracula – uncomplicated and single-minded in their blood lust. I don’t want to be their friend (or girlfriend). I want them to make me afraid to turn the light out.
By comparison, any modern day vampire is frankly a dilution. Why bother?