Dracula Ch. 25-27: The End

“Have you seen that awful den of hellish infamy–with the very moonlight alive with grisly shapes, and every speck of dust that whirls in the wind a devouring monster in embryo?”

-Jonathan Harker, who has lost any chill he ever possessed

Happy Halloween!

If you’re reading this, you probably finished reading Dracula (if you haven’t finished reading Dracula, spoiler warning!).

I changed my mind: Adam Driver should play Jack Seward.

If you haven’t checked out the #dracalong hashtag, it’s not too late and it’s full of hilarity. #Recommended

I hope you all enjoyed the book. It’s long, occasionally long-winded, and internally inconsistent, but, hey, we can’t have everything. Or so they tell me.


Let’s talk about these deplorable adorable amateur vampire-hunters one last time.

I like how Van Helsing is dropping new vampire rules to the bitter end, e.g. when he says Dracula “cannot cross the running water of his own volition” (392). Haven’t we already seen Dracula use the ferry on the Thames?

Someone should follow Jack Seward around and poke him around when he says something completely unacceptable, like when he talks about how great euthanasia is (395), during a time when they might soon have to murder Mina for her own good. Like….there is no good time to say that but especially not now, Jack.

Remember that one time (in the end of chapter 25) when Van Helsing sends Mina off to get a manuscript so he can talk about her privately with Jack, but then at the very end of that scene, when they’ve talked to Mina again, Jack informs us that he writes all of these conversations down and THEN HAS MINA TYPE THEM OUT ON HER TYPEWRITER? WHAT IS THE POINT OF PRIVATE CONVERSATIONS ABOUT YOUR OWN PERSONAL DOCUMENTATION PROFESSIONAL? Ahem. This is fine.

In any case, it’s good that they keep Mina informed (by whatever method) as she’s the one to work out which route Dracula is taking back to his castle, and so saves the assassination expedition from failure. I love how she’s “the train fiend” and just, the best at geography and routes and things. Van Helsing and Co. try to rely on hypnotizing her thereby “spying” on Dracula, but instead she helps the most by using her awesome brain, and I love that.

(Me, thinking about Mina Harker)

It takes us a while to get there, but the actual “fight” against Dracula is very short and abrupt.  I appreciate that the format of the book as a collection of documents is striving for realism, and the fact that the most action-packed bit is recounted in very few words adds to that realism. You don’t wax poetic about who traded which blows unless you’re writing epic poetry or something similar. The moment when Jonathan and Quincey deliver the final blows is pretty epic. But I also understand that for such an intense book and for a conflict that’s drawn out for so long, the ending may be unsatisfying. What did you all think?

I think the scene soon before the climax is more graphic and chilling:: when Van Helsing is exploring the castle and sequentially murdering the three female vampires. A. Gross, dude and B. That would be really scary???? To be wandering around a hopefully-abandoned castle???? and murdering beautiful monster ladies????? C. Wolves outside. D. Your friend back at camp who is possibly turning into a vampire at that very moment. E. Big Daddy Vampire might get home at any minute.

And on that note, thanks for joining me on this read-through of Dracula!

(Coming up next: Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson. I’ll be posting on the first eight chapters next Monday, November 7th).

Dracula: Further Reading (3)

All right, because I love you all so much I read some more bits of academia on Dracula so that you all don’t have to.

Friends don’t let friends read academia.

I’ve got some brief notes/summaries on two articles below. Be warned: Both of these article writers have zero chill.

“Back to the Basics: Re-Examining Stoker’s Sources for Dracula” by Elizabeth Miller (1999)

This woman is extremely concerned about how often books and media about Dracula treat erroneous speculation as facts. She’s determined to debunk all of the fake facts she sees, except she’s so convinced that they’re drivel that she doesn’t go very comprehensively into her evidence.
1. She says Bram Stoker hadn’t heard about Elizabeth Bathory and Dracula is NOT based on a female vampire (187). I hadn’t heard of Elizabeth Bathory, either, so this didn’t mean much to me. But she’s known as the Blood Countess and honestly sounds like a pretty killer lady.
2. She says Castle Dracula is completely fictional and folks need to stop “locating” it. Stoker describes it in the Borgo Pass, but there is no castle there (188-9). The ruins of Vlad the Impaler’s castle weren’t discovered until 1972, in the Arges Valley. Bran Castle “certainly looks the part” (189); I’ve heard the most about that one.
3. She says Vlad the Impaler should not be synonymous with Dracula. We have little evidence that Bram Stoker knew much about Vlad; we know he liked the name “Dracula” because it’s Wallachian for “Devil” but it was used to describe any bloodthirsty homicidal ruler, not just Vlad.
4. She says that Arminius Vambery , a Hungarian traveler and writer is not one of Bram Stoker’s sources. We know they dined together once, but otherwise there is no evidence that Stoker learned anything from him. I hadn’t heard of this guy, either.
5. She says that we have no evidence that Stoker read up on Vlad much, even though he went to the British Museum where some stuff on Vlad was. Also the wood-cut of Vlad really does not match the description of Dracula. What I find interesting is that a lot of the stuff we know about Vlad was researched and discovered after people decided that Dracula was based on him, and long after Stoker’s time.
6. She points out that impalement, one of Vlad the Impaler’s favorite things, isn’t mentioned at all in Dracula. Even though staking is sort of a different form of impalement, wouldn’t Stoker have mentioned it if he had known about it?
7. She says George Stoker (Bram’s brother) is not a viable source for Vlad the Impaler. His book about his travels mentions nothing about Vlad, vampires, or Transylvania.

Basically Miller has a lot of feelings about cultural myths that have sprung up around Bram Stoker’s inspirations.

“Dracula: The Unseen Face in the Mirror” by Carol A. Senf (1979)

This writer is really upset about the treatment of vampires in Dracula. I’m pretty sure she would have Van Helsing and Co. up on charges for murder and species endangerment if she could. I’m not going to go through her whole argument, but instead just mention a few of her more interesting points and observations.

  • Senf observes that most people expect Dracula to be set at the castle or somewhere equally scary or dramatic, but it’s set in Bram’s “modern day” London, essentially, and told via “authentic” documents, rather than leaning into myth or fantasy (161). The supposed authors of the documents doubt themselves and what they think they saw very often.
  • Senf thinks the characters are “two-dimensional” (162) and all have the same style/ opinions. I disagree but I’m curious about y’alls reaction to this?
  • “Dracula is never seen objectively and never permitted to speak for himself while his actions are recorded by people who have determined to destroy him and who, moreover, repeatedly question the sanity of their quest” (162). Well, when you put it like that…She has good points about the characters’ mental stability (eg Renfield, Jonathan’s breakdowns, Lucy’s mood swings) and the fact that a lot of it takes place in or near the mental institution.

“Stoker reveals that what condemns Dracula are the English characters’ subjective responses to his character and to the way of life which he represents” (163) and “Stoker implies that the only difference between Dracula and his opponents is the narrators’ ability to state individual desire in terms of what they believe is a common good” (165). I mean, she makes a good point, but it’s sort of like….tumblr_inline_npi34jaidu1rjrl4k_500

  • If they become like Dracula, “No longer would they need to rationalize their “preying on the bodies and souls of their loved ones” by concealing their lust for power under the rubric of religion, their love of violence under the names of imperialism and progress, their sexual desires within an elaborate courtship ritual” (166). The only thing Dracula does wrong is with his body if you know what I mean….This writer has absolutely no chill.
  • SPOILER WARNING FOR THIS QUOTE, BUT IT IS A DOOZY “By the conclusion of the novel, all the characters who have been accused of expressing individual desire have been appropriately punished: Dracula, Lucy Westenra, and the three vampire-women have been killed; and even Mina Harker is ostracized for her momentary indiscretion. All that remains after the primitive, the passionate, and the individualistic qualities that were associated with the vampire have been destroyed is a small group of wealthy men” (167). END OF SPOILERS


DISCUSS. This article was a very interesting read, but for me it went to extremes in order to justify Dracula’s actions and behavior. But again, Senf definitely makes some good points on the unreliability of the narrators.

Dracula Ch. 21-24: Very Polyglot With Bloom and Blood

This post includes spoilers through chapter 24 of Dracula.

Once again I don’t know where to start with these chapters. We have developments with Renfield, lots of Van Helsing monologues, a terrifying vampire attack, and honestly an awful lot of moaning. I like how now that the team has formed, all of them are able to work together and do what they’re best at – eg Jonathan can abuse his capacity at the law to find Dracula’s properties; Van Helsing can provide collegian lectures on their foe; Quincey can shoot things….. I also like how they start to pair off according to their skill sets: Jack and Van Helsing the morbid doctors, Arthur and Quincey the hunters, Mina and Jonathan the documenters. Not romantic pairs, although Arthur and Quincey should probably stop showing up together in their pajamas (327).

So Renfield. I don’t even like Renfield and I still have 1,000 questions about how he fell in with Dracula and what his life (and death) goals are. Renfield gets upset when he sees Mina because he realizes Dracula is feeding on her and“it made me mad to know that he had been taking the life out of her” (331). Why is he mad? What is so special about Mina? I know Mina was nice to him THAT ONE TIME she met him, but honestly Renfield seems so completely determined before but suddenly he is throwing himself at his “Lord and Master” and getting the crap beaten out of him. What’s also, um, remarkable is that Van Helsing and his boys don’t even KNOW Mina is getting vamped until Renfield tells them. Because they are idiots, I guess.

And then none of them except Van Helsing has their stakes with them (332)! What a bunch of rookies! Van Helsing did not raise you this way!

QUINCEY: We can’t just barge into a lady’s room!

VAN HELSING: That rule doesn’t apply to doctors, and anyway Van Helsing can go ANYWHERE HE LIKES.

That scene in the Harkers room is terrifying though and I don’t want to talk about it, someone else can.

Instead, let’s do a Quincey sidebar because. Wow. This guy is a weirdo, there I said it.

-Quincey, probably
  • When the Harkers are attacked, Quincey runs outside and Jack sees him hide beside a tree. Is he….trying to hunt Dracula? Play hide and seek? I don’t think they covered this in Vampirehunting 101.
  • When they try to assassinate Dracula by waiting for him at one of his houses, Quincey takes charge and “without speaking a word, with a gesture, placed us each in position” (359). Headcanon that he’s doing all of these elaborate hand-signals and the rest of them are looking at each other like “wtf is Quincey trying to say???” “I don’t know, YOU fought with him in the jungle or whatever.”
  • Arthur is all, “Hey, it’s fine, guys, we’ll take my car[riage]” and Quincey’s response is A+: “Look here, old fellow, it is a capital idea to have all ready in case we want to go horsebacking; but don’t you think that one of your snappy carriages with its heraldic adornments in a byeway of Walworth or Mile End would attract too much attention for our purposes” (346-7).  It’s just. The best.
  • According to Van Helsing: “when Quincey give him something from his pocket which crackle as he roll it up” (372). I tried to find out what Quincey is bribing the sailor with but it’s a mystery. I’m guessing it’s paper money (maybe even YANK money!!!!), and Van Helsing is just describing it in a weird way because Van Helsing.
  • “Quincey is all man, God bless him for it” (385). Yeah,  okay, Van Helsing, but maybe don’t encourage Quincey because he really needs to find some chill.

We’re going to revisit my favorite theme in this book, “communication is power.” Dracula is a pretty smart guy, and knows his best chance (besides murdering all of them) is to destroy all their written evidence that they have painstakingly gathered and organized. So he goes and burns all their notes (336), like a jerk. BUT FORTUNATELY they have three copies because of Mina’s magical Manifold typewriter and also because she plans ahead. Four for you, Mina Harker! You go, Mina Harker, you use that man-brain.


We need a Jonathan Harker sidebar too.

      • Jon’s white hair (355): for some reason I remembered his white hair happening after the castle section. Anyway, Victorian stories seem to be really into hair color change after traumatic events (see: The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, the Sherlock Holmes stories by Arthur Conan Doyle).
      • “Today he is a drawn, haggard old man , whose white hair matches well with the burning eyes and grief-written lines of his face. His energy is still intact; in fact he is like a living flame.” I’ll just leave this quote here.
      • Jon’s Kukri knife is first mentioned (360), which I find hilarious because we have seen no sign of it before this point, and like, why do you even h
        ( image from kukriblades.com )

        ave one of those, and Bram did you even PLAN THIS BOOK AHEAD or did you suddenly decide Jon needed a terrifying weapon? Kukri knives are pretty significant. My notes tell me that they’re the weapon of a group from Nepal called the Gurkha, which both helped and fought against the British at different points in India. Essentially, this is the most imperialist weapon Jon could possibly be using, and he’s using it to get rid of the reverse-colonialist vampire. That’s….really subtle, Bram. PS: I’m not posting links because hilariously a lot of them have Dracula spoilers. Apparently Bram Stoker REALLY popularized this weapon.

      • “…if we find out that Mina must be a vampire in the end, then she shall not going into that unknown and terrible land alone” (350) My notes here just say “jon holy shit holy shit.” Somehow I’ve never noticed that Jon is saying that if they can’t save Mina, he’s decided to become a vampire too. Which is ….pretty dark, considering their beliefs about vampires being irredeemable and damned.

And today on “Pretty Unacceptable Things to Say” with our favorite doctor, Van Helsing:

      • “Do you forget,” he said, with actually a smile, “that last night he banqueted heavily, and will sleep late?” (348). Too soon, bro. Too soo.
      • “the Vampire’s baptism of blood” (378): do you think these through before you say them, or do you just blurt them as they occur to you? No chill, VH. No chill.

Bonus “And That Was Just Freaking Weird” round from Dracula:

      • “Your girls that you all love are mine already; and through them you and others shall yet be mine – my creatures, to do my bidding and to be my jackals when I want to feed” (361).

A few of you have finished the book already, and the rest of us are well on the way! One more week! Three more chapters! Yay!

Dracula: Modern AU

This post contains spoilers for the first 17 chapters of Dracula.

London, 2016:

Jonathan Harker, a real estate agent, has to travel to Romania to pitch some London properties to an extremely wealthy client that wants to move to London. Jonathan’s fiancee Mina is a journalist working for a London newsblog. She had a last-minute interview on the coast or she would have gone with him. Since they met they’ve been writing emails to each other in Elvish, Klingon, and other made-up languages of their own because they are huge nerds and because Mina is paranoid about her stories getting stolen.


When Jon goes to Transylvania, all the locals try to convince him not to meet up with Count Dracula. As evidence, they produce all these weird Vines of fog, bats, and one of a wolf in the distance but nothing concrete because vampires can’t be filmed. He thinks they’re trying to prank him since he’s British. Count Dracula lives off in the boonies so Jon has to take a bus and then meet Dracula at one of the stops. The Count gets there just in time, rolling up in a shiny Rolls Royce because obviously.

Jonathan gets trapped without any communication as there isn’t any cell service or wifi. Instead of emailing Mina, Jon keeps writing email drafts just in case he finds a way to send them. He’s a 21st century man and doesn’t consider smoke signals or flares.

While Jonathan is in Romania, Mina goes to her interview and then visits her friend Lucy, a socialite who studied interior design. Lucy is proposed to by three guys who all know each other from Afghanistan: Arthur, a philanthropic trust fund baby; Jack, a doctor at a mental hospital; and Quincey, an American daredevil who can’t catch a break. When Mina catches Lucy sleepwalking, she keeps it secret from most because Lucy is engaged to a famous rich guy (Arthur) and Mina doesn’t want to cause any trouble with the paparazzi. Mina is then called off because her husband has been found at an airport suffering from major trauma.

Renfield, one of Jack’s patients, is a Gulf war veteran suffering from PTSD and a nervous breakdown….or that’s what modern science says.

Van Helsing is a hipster natural medicine doctor with a following but also a lot of critics.

When Lucy gets sick, they put her in a real hospital and everything except Van Helsing can’t get them to put enough security on her room so him and the boys trade off watching her. They all try to donate blood but it turns out Jack can’t pass the drug test. Mina comes back immediately thanks to a text from Lucy and also donates a lot of blood.


During Lucy’s final attack by Dracula, she is trapped in the hospital with a bunch of unconscious staff so she whips out her phone and texts Van Helsing and company, who immediately come to the hospital and save her from imminent undeath.

The whole group then embarks on a mission to hunt down the vampire Dracula, who they all witnessed mid-act at the hospital and also they have all seen Buffy so they know what’s up now. They can’t warn anyone else because whenever they try to film anything, nothing shows up because vampires can’t be seen on camera. No one benches Mina at any point.

They probably all live happily ever after?

Honestly I’m surprised at how easily you could transfer the whole story to modern-day. What do you think about my AU? What would you do differently, or how would you do other parts of the story? 



Dracula Ch. 18-20: Manlike, They Were Immediately Murdered By Rats

Okay, everyone, I’m going to be honest here: we’re getting closerish near to the end of this book and I am getting REAL TIRED OF EVERYONE’S SHENANIGANS, mostly in regard to not taking the proper precautions and to the treatment of Mina by her crew.

“Ah, that wonderful Madam Mina! She has man’s brain- a brain that a man should have were he much gifted-and woman’s heart. The good God fashioned her for a purpose, believe me, when he made that so good combination” (278).

For a purpose, eh? That purpose must be hunting and killing an immortal evil vampire, right? Right?


….Oh. Van Helsing, you are full of rat poop. YOU HEARD ME.

Anyway, Mina’s reaction to this is grouchy but understanding because she’s been brainwashed by the system – I mean, because she loves her husband and doesn’t want him to worry.  “Manlike, they have told me to go to bed and sleep” (287). TYPICAL. But I love how even though she’s going along with what they want, she’s still pretty snarky in her journal. Even Renfield is on Team Mina (278).

If the guys had followed up their benching of Mina with some, you know, smart decisions, I could maybe forgive it. But then they immediately go and investigate Dracula’s house AT NIGHT while leaving Mina at home ALONE. I mean, it’s not like we just sat through Van Helsing’s lecture on the Strengths and Weaknesses of Our Vampire Enemy and established that he is stronger during the night…

Oh, wait. We totally got that lecture. In all seriousness, Van Helsing’s lecture in Chapter 18 is a pretty great sum-up of what we know about Dracula so far from the book. He confirms that Dracula is the dog that ran off of the shipwreck, and probably can shift into dust-clouds, which seems like a really fake skill but that’s okay.

“The nosferatu do not die like the bee when he sting once. He is only stronger, and being stronger, have yet more power to work evil” (280-1).

Van Helsing mentions the “Scholomance” in his lecture, which I tried to find out more about but I guess I need to use an actual library. The wikipedia article is sorta helpful but most of their sources aren’t online for free. I was amused to notice that, besides all the links to World of Warcraft and Cassandra Clare, most links quoted Dracula when talking about Scholomance. Anyway, the long and short of it is that Scholomance is a magic school off in the mountainous boonies and is run by the devil.



I really enjoy how Morris, who doesn’t seem to be that interested in the research side of things, just walks out of the room so he can shoot at the bat he saw outside the window. And then…no one else raises the possibility that the bat might be Dracula? It’s probably fine. Bats are totally normal except for when they’re shapeshifting avatars of the undead. Maybe they’re just in denial. But, AGAIN, they follow this up with a night-time exploration of Dracula’s house. WHY DID YOU NOT GO DURING THE DAY ARGH.


Seward uses his skeleton keys to break into Dracula’s house (295), confirming my headcanon that he is secretly a body-snatcher in his spare time. I’m really onboard with this theory, you guys.

I haven’t talked very much about Renfield in these posts, mostly because I don’t know what to do with him.


“That horrid thing has the wolves and rats and his own kind to help him, so I suppose he isn’t above trying to use a respectable lunatic” (294).

He’s clearly under the influence of Dracula. He’s clearly a lunatic. I guess I’m pretty much like Seward – very suspicious of Renfield at all times and unsure what Renfield’s purposes are. He seems to want to become a sort of vampire himself, as shown by eating all the flies and whatnot. We don’t really know how or why he is aware of Dracula and thinks of him as his master. But why is he freaking out so much about leaving the asylum in chapter 18? Is he motivated by Dracula or by himself and for good or evil? Renfield: DISCUSS. Do you like and/or empathize with him? What do you think his deal is?

Dewey’s Readathon Oct16

I’m doing the thing again.


Dewey’s 24-hour Readathon is this Saturday, October 22nd. Reader sign-ups are here.

I haven’t yet made it all 24 hours and I won’t this year either but I’ll be participating as much as possible. This will be the first time I am reading e-books only, as my e-book TBR is getting ridiculous and I recently learned that I read much faster on my Kindle.

Here is my “stack” of potential reads:

I may throw some comics in there, too, if the occasion calls for it.

Are you participating? WHATCHA GONNA READ?

Dracula: Further Reading (2)

We’re over halfway through our readalong of Dracula, and the plot, as they say, continues apace. I don’t know about you but everything is getting pretty intense.

The novel has an obvious influence on pop culture, and has inspired many movies, books, and comics. For this post I wanted to take a look at a few books that were inspired by Dracula and feature our favorite blood-sucking patriarch in some fashion. If you think I should have included any others, let me know in the comments!

The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova:

Published in 2005, this is one of the more recent books inspired by Dracula, and a very excellent one. We’ve seen the way Van Helsing’s crew has begun to use documentation and information as a defense against Dracula, and that’s an idea that The Historian takes and runs with. The heroes of the book are all historians and librarians, and only very rarely shows any vampiric activity. It’s less horrific but more atmospheric; it’s suspenseful and thoughtful and complex. The story takes place partially in the “present day” of the narrator in 1972, but also flashes back to her father’s research in the 1950s. Worth the read!

Hellsing by Kohta Hirano:

This is a 10-volume manga series and whereas The Historian is inspired by the more mundane methods of vampire-hunting, this story is very much a horror story. The story focuses on an organization called “Hellsing” whose mission is to fight against evil supernatural monsters, such as vampires. However, they also use their own pet vampire, “Alucard.” Yes….Dracula spelled backwards. It’s fine. Hellsing is very dark and extremely graphic, but the story is gripping and the cast is full of fascinating anti-heroes. Besides Alucard, there’s Integra, the boss of Hellsing (and a descendant of Van Helsing?), as well as Seras, a young policewoman who is turned into a vampire but does her best to use her powers for Hellsing.

Dracula the Un-Dead by Dacre Stoker and Ian Holt:

I haven’t read this one but it is a sequel to the original novel (sanctioned by the Stoker family). It features older versions of the original characters, along with some new ones, in a mystery revolving around a in-book theatrical production of Dracula, directed by Bram Stoker. Yes, it sounds wild and probably is a hot mess, but it exists.

Renfield: Slave of Dracula by Barbara Hambly:

I just found out this book exists and not to get nerdy or anything but the author has written some truly wild Star Wars novels. The combination of her plots with our favorite asylum escapee sounds like a great time.

Did I miss something you love or have heard about? I know there’s a lot of blood-sucking books out there.