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I've been intrigued by the various dedicated ebook reader devices since I saw the first Sony Reader. But since I'm almost always carrying a smartphone and/or gaming device, I've always figured that I should be able to find a reader application for one of those that would let me read ebooks. With Stanza on the iPhone, I think I've finally found a reader that fits enough text on the screen, and gets out of the way of the reading process as much as possible, that I can really effortlessly read an entire novel.

Dracula was my first test. I chose it because of my ongoing read-all-the-scifi-classics project (and because it's free) but it turns out that long Victorian sentences made for an extra-strong test -- if I can handle that verbosity on the fairly small iPhone screen, then anything written with any sort of punch should be no problem.

On to the book itself: The entire book is told through the interleaving of letters, diary entries, newspaper articles, ships logs, etc. For the first half of the book, this increases the suspense -- each participant has glimpses of the bigger picture, but no one sees everything. But by the second half of the novel, the vampire hunters are swapping diaries and journals and an inordinate amount of the action is spent on characters reading each other's accounts of the day before. It all begins to seem a bit recursive.

The action seems fairly stilted, too, by modern standards. Van Helsing spends a lot of time half-heartedly raising ineffectual defenses around poor Lucy ("nobody touch these garlic strands, but I won't tell anyone why, and in fact won't tell everyone in the house -- oops, one of those people removed them") and only gets around to slowly telling everyone. And hey, that ancient and crafty vampire who keeps getting around Van Helsing's best efforts? Yeah, Van Helsing's got a theory about how Dracula's got a "child brain" so they should be able to easily defeat him. Okaaaaay.

And then, can I spoil the end of the novel for you? Dracula is trapped in a box on a boat and they wait to chase after him because they're confident of train schedules. Really. Amazingly, even with his "child brain", he manages to elude them and travel, still trapped in a box, by cart as they chase him for pages and pages until they catch up to him just before his castle and... dispatch him in a page and a half. The end. I can see why even even adaptations that trumpet their connection to the original, change the story.

FuzzyCo grade: B-