This was my second reading, and just as enjoyable as the first. I love the structure: a collection of correspondence, typed-up notes, and news clippings, inviting the reader to piece together the story herself. A description in Dr. Seward’s notes echoes an observation in Jonathan Harker’s diary, and Van Helsing’s cryptic worries make it all shivery. The high level of detail (train timetables, names and dates, etc.) gives the fantastical parts of the story greater weight. And I was scared for them again!
What I liked best: I love that Mina Harker plays a strong role in the little group that collects itself to fight the demon come to town; her references to the ‘New Woman’ and whether she would match up are cute. Also the celebration of New Technology: trains, typewriters (and stenography!), phonographs, psychiatry, electric lamps, telegraphs. These people travel a lot; nice that Mina and the others give credit to the vast amounts of money they need to do so. I like that it's not a Hero tale: it takes the whole group to fell the monster; everyone has a role, and not everyone is completely good.
I was also amazed that nearly all of the “classic” vampire tropes are given life here: no reflection in mirrors, controlling weather and shape, weakness in the daytime, need to be invited into someone’s home, the villain’s soliloquy, etc. One idea that has not seemed to have lasted is Van Helsing’s description of Dracula as having a “child-brain,” still learning the ways of the new world; once he did, he would be unstoppable, thus the ticking clock to destroy him soon.
Liked least: Van Helsing does go on and on sometimes, and it’s irritating that while the men all say they respect Mina’s abilities (she puts two and two together so often for them), they turn around and try to protect her as if she were a child. Nice to see that whenever they do that, something bad happens. Someday, maybe, they’ll learn.