I saw something on Reddit about reading classic horror. Having read Frankenstein long ago I did know that the books don't much follow the subsequent movies and other spinoffs. Thinking I'd drop it shortly after starting I kicked off an audio of Bran Stoker's Dracula read by Robert Whitfield. A couple of things about this audiobook.
First, it is a little famous having been performed in an extraordinary manner by Whitfield. Dozens of spot on accents fill male and female, German, British, Romanian, and American characters with personality and individuality breathing life into the story. That was the first surprise.
The second is that, like Frankenstein, the movie story does not much follow the book. The movies are about Dracula and hinge on his dramatic appearance and his dramatic actions. I've seen Nosferatu and Lugosi's versions and even the Broadway play with Frank Langella. In all cases it was all about the vampire and the rest of the story was ancillary.
Turns out Stoker is an excellent writer. This is gothic lit at its best, full of drama. But the descriptions of place and the prose is just luscious. When the horses pull a wagon you can really hear the hooves and see the dirt flying off of them. Set in the late 1800's the world was full of energy and potential and all the inventions of the early 20th century on the near horizon. The story is a trip back into the depths of earlier times that resonate with danger.
The story is not about the vampire. He becomes a behind the scene drum beat, a constant pressure of darkness on the protagonists, a band of brothers (and an unfortunate sister or two) who work in concert to defeat a monster. The irony is that they must plan and execute this murder in the shadows as there is no proof of their claim that he is, in fact, a monster. Stoker develops the entire story from the diaries of this band as if he'd found them and was reading them for the first time.
I'm not a huge horror fan although I grew up with all the black and white movies that are the foundation for the industry. But Stoker was, in this book, mesmerizing and Whitfield read it perfectly.