Author: Bram Stoker
Narrators: Alan Cumming, Tim Curry, Simon Vance, Katherine Kellgren, Susan Duerden, John Lee, Graeme Malcolm, Steven Crossley, Simon Prebble, James Adams, Nicola Barber, Victor Villar-Hauser, Marc Vietor
Duration: 15 hrs, 28 mins
Description from Goodreads:
Because of the widespread awareness of the story of the evil Transylvanian count and the success of numerous film adaptations that have been created over the years, the modern audience hasn't had a chance to truly appreciate the unknowing dread that readers would have felt when reading Bram Stoker's original 1897 manuscript. Most modern productions employ campiness or sound effects to try to bring back that gothic tension, but we've tried something different. By returning to Stoker's original storytelling structure - a series of letters and journal entries voiced by Jonathan Harker, Dr. Van Helsing, and other characters - with an all-star cast of narrators, we've sought to recapture its originally intended horror and power.
This production of Dracula is presented by what is possibly the best assemblage of narrating talent ever for one audiobook: Emmy Award nominees Alan Cumming and Tim Curry plus an all-star cast of Audie award-winners Simon Vance (The Millenium Trilogy), Katherine Kellgren (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Susan Duerden (The Tiger's Wife), John Lee (Supergods) and customer favorites Graeme Malcolm (Skippy Dies), Steven Crossley (The Oxford Time Travel series), Simon Prebble (The Baroque Cycle), James Adams (Letters to a Young Contrarian), Nicola Barber (The Rose Garden), Victor Villar-Hauser (Fun Inc.), and Marc Vietor (1Q84). These stellar narrators have been cast as follows:
Dr. Seward: Alan Cumming
Jonathan Harker: Simon Vance
Mina Murray/Harker: Katy Kellgren
Lucy Westenra: Susan Duerden
Van Helsing: Tim Curry
Graeme Malcolm: Dailygraph correspondent
Steven Crossley: Zookeeper's account and reporter
Simon Prebble: Varna
James Adams: Patrick Hennessey
Nicola Barber: Sister Agatha
Victor Villar-Hauser: Arthur Holmwood
Marc Vietor: Quincey Morris
John Lee: Introductory paragraph, various letters
For real, if I had been reading this in print format, I really do not think we would have been friends. The story goes by so slowly, the characters are flat, and there is very little action for a horror novel. Add to this the fact that pretty much ALL of pop culture is one big giant spoiler for the plot, and the book is insanely boring at most points.
Even worse, pop culture took all the good ideas out of Dracula and so, basically, what you're left to be surprised by is all of the things pop culture changed so that the book could actually be interesting. Take, for example, Van Helsing and Dracula's battle. I went in expecting this:
If that's what you're hoping for, let me just tell you that you're WRONG. In fact, Van Helsing is an old, fat doctor with an absurd accent. Dracula is a tall, old man with a long white mustache. Umm, yuck, really? Sadly, 'tis true. The action in the book is more of the mental battle variety than anything else. They do a lot more talking than fighting.
Mental standoffs can be pretty cool though, characters trying to outmaneuver one another. I mean, that's what made the first half of Death Note so freaking cool. Unfortunately, these characters are dumb. Certainly, knowing what's happening going into the book, but even given that they're working with no knowledge, their reasoning abilities are limited.
What really got to me was that, near the end, they've figured out what happened to Lucy Westenra, watched her become a vampire, and killed her. Now they're searching for Dracula to kill him too. They decide that they need to do this without the cleverest of the bunch, Mina Harker, because ladies cannot handle this sort of thing, duh. They leave her alone and come back to find her weak, pale and tired, and it takes them freaking ages to think maybe Dracula has something to do with this, since these symptoms are remarkably similar to Lucy's. Basically, everyone's pathetic.
Speaking of Mina, she is by far the most interesting and clever character, but, because of the time period, she gets very little respect. I mean, yeah, the guys appreciate what a great typist she is and admire her intellect, but, ultimately, she's more of a curiosity than a compatriot. They leave her out of things because she's a woman, and view her most important role to be that of a shoulder to cry on, of feminine comfort, despite the fact that she's the one who ultimately figures everything out. I know it's a different time, but it still pisses me right the fuck off.
Oh, also supremely annoying? The infinite references to God. Seriously, every couple of minutes someone would intone "it's in God's hands." At first it didn't bother me, because that's the kind of stupid shit people would say, and still do say, in crises. However, after the first fifty times, I pretty much wanted to start ripping people's heads off every time it happened. I GOT it already: you're all good Christians. Shut the fuck up, okay?
The only thing that made this book bearable for me was the fact that Audible did a wonderful job putting together the audio. They brought in a stellar cast, and really fit the voices to the characters. My favorite voice actors were Alan Cumming and Katherine Kellgren. Tim Curry does a good job, but he's doing that stupid Van Helsing accent, so I couldn't love his performance as much.
Even with the marvelous audio work, this still only came out to a meh for me. I highly recommend the audio version, whether you think you'll like the book or not.