Posted October 13, 2014 by in Lost Classics

October: A Month for Spooky Tales, Part 2

Last week we looked at storyteller Kathryn Tucker Windham and her haunting tales featuring the many ghosts of Alabama. For this week’s edition of “October: A Month for Spooky Tales,” we will examine Bram Stoker’s classic vampire book, Dracula. Of all the scary works out there, Dracula could be given credit for starting the whole industry of spine-tingling vampire works in the modern era.


Written by author Bram Stoker and released in 1897, Dracula is told in diary format from the first-person perspectives of Jonathan Harker, Mina Murray, Dr. John Seward, and others. The story begins with Jonathan Harker traveling to Transylvania to visit Count Dracula, a client of Harker’s solicitor firm. After closing the deal for Count Dracula to take ownership of Carfax Abbey in London, Harker observes several unnatural occurrences in the castle. At one point, Harker comes under the spell of Dracula’s female vampires and is left to their caprices as the Count makes his way to London.

In London, Mina Murray entertains herself with visits to her good friend Lucy Westenra’s home. Mina, who is engaged to Jonathan Harker, enjoys watching Lucy flirt with three suitors: Dr. John Seward, Quincey Morris, and Arthur Homewood. In the end, Lucy selects Arthur as her future husband. In the midst of all this happiness, Count Dracula arrives. He lures Lucy to him, and ultimately, she succumbs to his power. Unable to determine the cause of Lucy’s sleepwalking and her sudden unhealthiness, Dr. Seward wires his old teacher Van Helsing to come to their aid and help them save Lucy. Van Helsing arrives, but he is too late. Lucy dies, only she becomes “undead,” a vampire. Van Helsing, Seward, Morris, and Homewood save her soul by cutting off her head and removing her heart.

Meanwhile, Jonathan Harker escapes from the female vampires, sends for Mina to join him in Transylvania, and marries her in a small ceremony. They return to London after Lucy’s death, but just in time for Mina to become the Count’s next victim. Realizing that the same fate is about to befall Mina, Van Helsing and the others begin to track down Dracula. He escapes them in London and leads them on a terrifying race back to Transylvania. Aided by Mina’s visions of the Count, Van Helsing and his team are able to ambush Dracula in his castle. Although they kill Count Dracula, they lose Quincey Morris in the process. Later, Mina and Jonathan honor Quincey by naming their son after him.

Author Bram Stoker. Photo from biography.com.

Author Bram Stoker. Photo from biography.com.

Dracula was not author Bram Stoker’s first book. Fifty years old when Dracula was published, Stoker had already penned several other novels. However, his other works never brought him the critical acclaim that Dracula did.

When Stoker wrote his masterpiece, vampire stories had been in existence for centuries. Still, it was Stoker’s work that really catapulted the tale into the international limelight. Almost as soon as silent films began to be made, Dracula became a movie, first in 1922 as Nosferatu. Since that time, Stoker’s content has been the basis for countless films, and playing Dracula has made the career of performers such as Bela Lugosi.

Dracula has something of a cult following. But now, it lives on in spinoffs in such works as Twilight, True Blood, and other series that have found inspiration in the original. Yet, no matter how many vampire-based tales are created, and no matter how much they may try to distance themselves from the original, one must recognize that Stoker’s version is simply the best. There’s no other vampire tale like Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Next week, in part three of “October: A Month for Spooky Tales,” we will take a look at a scary book that has made more than one school-aged child leave the light on at night!

Mollie Smith Waters

Mollie Smith Waters teaches American literature, theater, and speech at a small community college in rural Alabama. Her hobbies include reading, writing, traveling, and walking.