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Robbie Mutter

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Dracula (Wordsworth Classics)
Dracula (Wordsworth Classics)
by Bram Stoker
Edition: Paperback
Price: 1.89

14 of 34 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars The opposite of story-telling, 22 Nov 2009
This is a comprehensive exercise in how NOT to tell a story. It's told through various of the main characters' diaries/journals. Which should be a great device for developing character and moving the plot along. BUT, the characters are all the same, and don't develop. AND, there is the lankiest of plots. Both these could be forgiven if you argue that this is a 'novel of ideas'. But it's not. It a novel about ONE idea. Granted, it's a hugely interesting idea, as the countless (bad choice of word) reinterpretations of this have obviously made it part of our culture over 100 years on. But, in its original form here, the potential of the idea/story is completely wasted. I don't wish to speak ill of the dead (or the undead) but Bram Stoker should be GRATEFUL that those crappy Hammer Horror films were made to breathe some life into his stale novel.

I've tried to think about how this would have been received at the time. In 1897, were we supposed to already know about vampires? Or was this a completely new idea to people? I really couldn't work it out. The novel seemed to make some assumptions of knowledge, but was then frustratingly vague about detail. Van Helsing is the singular most irritating character in literature and his sanctimonious evasiveness became almost unbearable by the time I reached halfway. And by the end I realised that it was all because Bram Stoker actually has no story to tell.

This could all be excused if the writing itself was interesting/insightful/anything-less-than-dreary. But from Chapter 5 onwards, this is utter filler. It reads like a first draft. No - not even a first draft. It reads like a set of scribbled notes of 'a novel I might write one day if I can ever dredge up enthusiasm for it'. But dredge he did. Shame. And - yes - I realise that it's written in the form of diaries, but when I read - for the fiftieth time! - words to the effect of "...I must write down every detail for the record, not a single detail must be omitted...", I actually felt like I was having my own blood sucked from me. And once each of the characters had written his or her own exhaustive account of every minute detail of their dreary lives, they all shared and read each others'. For what purpose? I'm still not sure. At the time, they seemed to think it was terribly important, but it had no bearing on the plot whatsoever. So it had all been a torturous waste of their time and, more importantly, mine.

I have never had to fight my way through a book like I did with this. However, to try to end on a positive note, the reason I did persevere is that the first few chapters are, actually, pretty damned good. Really atmospheric. The way Jonathan's journey from civilised England through famous cities, then further on into unchartered lands and finally to the middle of god-knows-where where god-knows-what is going on, is completely gripping. So my advice is this: read the first few chapters and then stop. I can only assume that that's what most of the reviewers above did.
Comment Comments (6) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Apr 20, 2012 5:56 AM BST

Portrait of My Lover as a Horse
Portrait of My Lover as a Horse
by Selima Hill
Edition: Paperback

0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars REVIEW OF THIS TERRIBLE BOOK AS HORSE-DUNG, 21 Jun 2009
I have never before felt the need to review a book on Amazon. And I have NEVER EVER thrown a book away. However, I happily ditched this in the recycling within hours. This is not a talented poet. This is not a book that is going to be of interest of people who don't like poetry. I don't see the point of it at all. If a primary school pupil had written, I could understand the praise given above. It's lazy, and dull, and apparently written by someone with no interest whatsoever in the English language.

I'm well up for 'kooky'. This is just awful. I lost count of the empty, meaningless, repititious use of "O my lord".

(I wonder if I've made myself clear here...)

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