In accordance, this is a more interactive review, with lots of fun and educational sights and sounds for those of you too lazy or dumb to read.
Also, THANK GOD RAYMOND T. MCNALLY IS DEAD.
Let us take a moment to tip our collective hats and spit in the general direction of the original work this novel was ripped from: Gram Smoker's Crackula. Sorry; like a mutation of Jonathan Harker with actual balls and communication abilities, I was soliciting David and Shannon for pertinent puns, and Shannon delivered the most accurate one. But in all seriousness. And I do mean srsness. Reading Stoker's writing is like scrolling through a barrage of chronologically parallel responses to a ontdcreepy post, saturated with WHY SO SRS. And I thought my fanfic was bad. If you regard Stoker's techniques and subject matter as innovative, you are either literarily and historically ignorant, or just deserve to be killed, or both. Really, I'm not picky. It takes little migration, geographically, temporally, and intellectually, to find Le Fanu and Carmilla, which predated Dracula by 25 years and, all things considered, is a more inventive tale. Dracula's denouement, taken at face value, would fail freshman English with flying colours. One does not simply walk into Moldova/make a voluminous (read: hundred-pages-past-its-welcome) tale believable with an abrupt conclusion that comprises the novel's last two pages. Little to no critical reading is required to notice that Dracula is the work of a man whose career is in the shitter. Small surprise that, languishing on the estate of a man whose only other notable work during his lifetime was a biography of his employer, Stoker's widow published Dracula's Guest seventeen years later to capitalize on fragments initially deemed too tl;dr to be included in the full work (irony of ironies). One of the meagre redeeming factors of the titular facepalmfest is that it accurately portrays Stoker as a crock, inserting him into the plot to interact with fictional characters of his own invention and hop on anyone's coattails for connections and patronage.
I can't find the precise citation at the moment, but at one point, Essex implies that Stoker was completely unaware that he had written a highly sexual novel. The Victorians may have been naïve out of circumstance, but they weren't all ignorant; and even for them, it's difficult to brush off a novel-length work (albeit not one of genius) scored through with innuendo and overt sexual allegory. This is a tired fucking tale in the pretentious academic sea that I swim in by default and have to periodically grab onto a lifeboat of lulz to make sure I don't drown in; at any rate, Stoker, Le Fanu, and their icky sticky undertones are summarily addressed here. In the words of Ralph Hader at 1:44 in this immortal performance, MOVING ON.
...But first, an encouraging word from our sponsors: the vast pool of variegated, nonpartisan critics on the book's back cover, none of whom could possibly be the author's personal friends/spiritual sistahzzz. Do we perceive a trend:
"Dark, gothic, and utterly sensual, Dracula in Love is the novel for Twilight's grown-up fans." - Michelle Moran, bestselling author of Nefertiti. (This is all you really need to know.)
"Mina Harker is a heroine for the ages - bold, intrepid, and in love with one of the most dangerous, irresistible men in history. If you read only one more vampire novel, let it be this one." - C.W. Gortner, author of The Last Queen and The Confessions of Catherine de Medici. (I'm guessing she's the underdog of the group.)
"The King of the Undead in all his manifestations confronts Victorian society, reclaiming his throne as the ultimate vampire, before whom all other paltry vampires in literature wither away." - Margaret George, bestselling author of The Memoirs of Cleopatra. (The undead popularity contest will be hosted and scripted by Fox.)
(Michelle Belanger was unavailable for comment presumably due to preoccupation hate-fucking Father Sebastian, who was dressed in a French maid outfit and referring to himself as Rosa the House Kheperu. Hurrr get it. I wouldn't admit it, either.)
Anyway, let's get this party started.
Lucy is engaged to Arthur Holmwood but is fucking Morris Quince (I don't fucking know; Quincey Morris and 'Von Helsinger' were redubbed for no other discernible reason than some commentary on Stoker being a hack writer with no respect for the characters' plights that he capitalized on), and Jonathan is off remaking Hostel and is of dubious sexual orientation anyway; but Dr. Seward is all for consummating Mina's consumption examination, complete with some scandalous scene where he demonstrates to her the application of a straitjacket. Say, there aren't any other contemporary vampire novels in which all of the male characters fawn over a female protagonist with zero redeeming qualities, are there?
On that note, my abiding image of Jonathan Harker is now and will forever be the guy who starts grooving at 0:38. He even has the crucifix:
TAKE CARE HOW YOU CUT YOUR COKE. IT IS MORE DANGEROUS THAN YOU THINK IN THIS CLUB. Seriously, man; I snorted a fifth of Gerber's baby powder last week, and Pee Wee Herman impersonators were coming up and asking me where the nearest nursery was all night. Also, Van Helsing will never not be a very intoxicated Anthony Hopkins to me.
Cock goes where?
Interlude: thank fuck we were preserved from Jonathan's self-indulgent tl;dr journal entries this time around. 'I hope to make myself a more eligible spouse by embracing the ways of a new age, no matter how strange and frightening they may seem compared to our own. Some of the images I encountered on this message board were appalling, and I had to clear my browser cache, lest I absorb the superstitions of the peasants who roamed these forbidding domains and taint the purity of my engagement to
Y'ALL BE QUIET OVER THERE.
Have some quotes.
I surveyed the pile of papers. "What is your angle on the story?" I had assimilated some of Kate's journalistic jargon and had begun to freely use it. (21)
What a bold, intrepid heroine.
That was the beginning of our courtship: a year of fruitful visits, Sunday strolls and picnics, and lengthy conversations about similar interests over tea, culminating in a proposal of marriage put to Headmistress just weeks ago, who accepted on my behalf with delight. (29)
Ideal Victorian bride =/= imbued with personal interests.
I wanted to go back to sleep and forget all this, but I could not ignore the full feeling inside me. Something was literally filling me up. Had some ghost come in the night and violated me? (46)
MISTY RAPIST RETURNS. For those of you who missed it.
"You are both naive young ladies," said Mrs. Westenra. "It is my duty to prevent you from falling prey to men's schemes. Mr. Quince has a certain raw American charm but has no solid plans. The man paints! What sort of a man paints? A man who likes to see ladies without their clothing - that is who paints!" (59)
You gonna get loved tenderly.
Lucy's face contorted into a frown. "Perhaps good women like you do not experience these sorts of feelings. What is it like, Mina, to never have committed a transgression?"
"I am not without sin," I said.
I let the words slide out of my mouth and into the world. I too had kept in my secrets and longed to confess to someone. (75)
SHIT JUST GOT REAL. Half of this book is a flaccid cocktease of someone praising/criticizing Mina's demureness, her baiting said interlocutor with a denial, and 'Uh...I had some dreams.' Which really is basically all she does.
Meanwhile, several hundred miles east,
So we all know that Jonathan escapes the castle after multiple orgies with three Monica Belluccis, staggers deliriously around the countryside in search of an internet connection, and is hospitalized in the wake of a suicide attempt after losing his iPod. Also, I see your endearing attempts to appear well-traveled and culturally aware, and they are sufficiently contrived to make you look like (even more of) a douche. Fräulein and Schwester aren't exactly exotic words without English equivalents, and there's really no reason for a native speaker of German to insert them into conversational English, unless you're scripted by a writer who used to pad term papers with excessive unrelated citations to solidify her credibility, or total lack thereof.
Sidenote: There's some random asylum inmate named Jemima. In Victorian England. Oh lawd, is dat sum anachronism.
Series of unfortunate events/excerpts:
"You are the woman with viridian eyes, the color of a rare stone worn by the immortals. I have not seen such eyes in one hundred years. (Cool story bro.) Blood is the one true love potion. Remember?" (152-153)
I HELD MY NOSE, I CLOSED MY EYES; I TOOK A DRINK. I didn't know if it was day or night; I started hating everything in sight. Also, I HEAR YOU CAN CATCH SOME AWESOME PLANT POKEMON IN VIRIDIAN CITY. I'm vaguely depressed that Firefox recognizes 'Pokemon,' but not 'viridian.'
"The sounds of your pulses are like celestial music, Mina. The body sings. Can you hear it?" (154)
THE BODY SINGS. (I was going to make a Twilight Zone reference ['I Sing the Body Electric'], but Rod Serling has suffered too much already for inclusion here.)
Hottest pillow talk ever:
"Don't push me away. Prove that you love me. I don't want to hurt you, but I have to, at least at first," he said. He looked more desperate than aroused, his sorrow at causing me pain obliterating any excitement on his face. "The pain is a blessing, you'll see. You have to get past the pain so that we can have our babies. And we must have them. We must create life to counter all the death around us." (233)
Cosmo weeps. Surprise; this is Jonathan talking.
"Do you like the bed? You have been asleep for two days."
"I do like it," I said, my voice crackling with the first words of the day. "It is the most luxurious bed I have ever slept in."
"It once belonged to Pope Innocent, though he was anything but. Ironic that you are lying in it now." (260-261)
Historical name-dropping isn't sophisticated unless you can back it up with trufax. Between the fifth and eighteenth centuries A.D., there were thirteen Pope Innocents and one Antipope of the same name. Which begs the question:
On the origins of Dracula and why public vivisection should be legalized:
"I was born in the Pyrenees in the southwest of France in the time of the king known as the Lionheart and into a distant branch of his family. Those were the days of the Crusades to the Holy Land." (269)
Because Eastern Europe wasn't glamorous enough. This is also about the time when the book pitches over from dumb-as-hell-but-still-believable to batshit insanity.
I felt a mad rush of heat, and he was between my legs again, and like some kind of eel or lamprey, he had sucked me into his mouth as if he was consuming all of me. (278)
I do not think you queried 'lamprey' on Google images before desirously describing it between your legs. By the way, this entire segment takes place on a motherfucking boat in the middle of the Irish sea, which I assume is a euphemism for the amount of whiskey imbibed by the book's editor.
"Yes. Do you remember what we used to do?" He put his hands on my temples. It is still happening, right here in this very place. We are still here making love. We never left. (322)
Jesus FUCK huge raucous spewing of beverage.
Confession time. One night during the course of the nameless, accursed time that I spent reading this book, I decided to drop acid for shits and giggles. It was about that time that things in the plot got fucking weird. As in, Mina has some flashback to the twelfth century where she reenacts The Craft, meets Dracula-as-a-Frenchman, and fucks/swears eternal hot lovin' to him without a cursory exchange of names or Skype accounts. Due to my mildly tenuous grasp on reality at the time, I dignified this perceived wtf-age with little more than a sundry '...Dude' or two with a nod to my mental milieu at the time, and hoped vacantly that it would all be better in the morning. Then I reread the chapter in question while sober, and it was exactly the fucking same. There is no making this shit up; nor is there un-seeing of what has been seen. Moral of the story: Read this book on acid, or don't; your choice will change absolutely nothing.
So anyway. Mina spends 1/3 of the book reenacting the Darth Vader NOOOOOOOOOO from Revenge of the Sith and demanding to know why Dracula would ever let her forsake an eternity of getting laid something awesome. After much tl;dr, it is revealed that Mina got pregnant and had a son named Raymond who everybody loves. (This was during their French incarnation, apparently.) Raymond died of the plague or some other silly French ailment, and Mina committed suicide. YA DUN GOOFED. Apparently among his repertoire of superhuman qualities is an ungodly fucking patience for female stupidity, so Dracula just sighs and sits it out for another billion cycles of mortal life, until Mina is old enough to fuck again. And then - the facepalm that was heard around the world, the harassment by hooligans on a basketball court in West Philadelphia that flip-turns the novel upside-down - IT HAPPENS AGAIN. Mina gets pregnant via Jonathan, probably producing an offspring that is just a mobile vagina. Her first thought isn't 'Oh, shit, that was dumb; darling, grab me a coat hanger.' This actually infuriates me - she doesn't even balk at the idea of returning to her domestic, subservient human existence. After 370 pages of corny female empowerment, it turns out her destiny all along was to be a housewife to Jonathan and a mother to a pack of squalling brats. I could not make this shit up.
Essex goes on and fucking on about fulfilling your destiny and emerging into what you were always meant to be and winning Homecoming Queen while this swells in the background. At one point, Dracula remarks "You cannot have that life because that is not who you are, Mina. You must be who you are, not who you wish to be." The novel even opens with a Nietzsche quote, the hallmark of postmodernist 'I drink Caribou, not Starbucks' wank. And it was all building up to this glorification of domesticity and motherhood. It would be hilarious if the book was a satire, just one long 'And you thought you were reading Twilight' sexist joke and a commentary on Victorian society. Unfortunately, the author isn't that intelligent, nor is her gaping-cunt constituency.
Also, some luminary in the acknowledgments is credited as the 'provider of airline tickets to exotic locations.' Probably nowhere east of Prague, you ignorant freeloading whore. But I forget; France is the land of romance, after all, and no one wants to read about a gritty post-Communist, manufacturing-based region with unpronounceable names (bitch please; it's Russian and Polish that have the most nigh-indecipherable syntax and pronunciation) whose most smug source of income hails from all of your faggot Dracula tour groups. It's such a boner-killer in romance novels.
Hopefully M. Night Shyamalan will direct the movie.