Audio presentation of three classic Gothic tales, including Robert Louis Stevenson’s The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein and Bram Stoker’s Dracula.
I read these books as a teenager, though the only one I actually remember reading is Dracula. Given the plethora of film and TV versions of these horror classics, it’s hardly surprising that my memory is liberally sprinkled with filmic recollections that aren’t necessarily in the written versions.
The Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde story is the shortest of the three, though the ‘twist’ at the end does feel like it’s a long time a-coming. Richard Armitage narrates the story and brings it to life in suitably Gothic style.
Frankenstein was the most surprising for me, as it was very different to how I remembered it. With no mention of grave-robbing, gothic castles, hunchbacked assistants named Igor, or lightning-generated monster-machines, we are left with no clue as to how Ms Shelley’s scientist creates his monster. (Perhaps she deemed it too scary to describe). While I enjoyed the story, the author’s habit of having each of her characters launch into endlessly tedious monologues on the meaning of life and the justification for their various actions etc, is just that – endless and tedious. Narrator Dan Stevens (Downton Abbey, Beauty and the Beast) does a worthy job, though to my mind, the book would benefit from the excision of several chapters.
And so we get to the best of the three – Dracula was one of my favourite reads as a kid and still is a cracking good book, managing to be pretty scary (relatively speaking) as well as holding its own against more recent horror classics. Narrated by Greg Wise and Saskia Reeves, the only fly in the monstrous ointment is that Van Helsing does tend to ramble on a bit to the point where I wanted to tell him to shut up and get on with it.
An interesting collection that will please lovers of classic tales and endless monologues.
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