Dracula is told from different characters' points of view, through letters, journal entries, newspaper clippings, and other documents. Although the style is disjointed, the story is straightforward and suspenseful. It begins with Jonathan Harker, an English lawyer, who is traveling to Transylvania to meet with a rich client, the mysterious Count Dracula. After a strange journey through the ominous landscape of Eastern Europe, Harker arrives at Castle Dracula. The Count welcomes Harker into his huge and isolated castle, and Harker begins noticing many strange things about his host. Dracula stays up all night talking with Harker, disappears during the days, and never seems to eat. Harker discovers that he is a prisoner in the castle, and that the Count has dark plans for him. While searching for a way to escape, Harker finds Dracula sleeping in a coffin; Dracula appears much younger and has traces of blood on him. When Dracula leaves for England, Harker makes a desperate attempt to escape the castle.
The story moves to England, where we meet several new characters: Harker's fiance´┐Ż, Mina; her friend, Lucy Westenra; and three of Lucy's suitors: Arthur Holmwood, Quincey Morris, and Dr. Seward. Mina and Lucy are vacationing on the English coast when a storm blows up and a Russian ship, the Demeter, crashes ashore. The ship's log tells of a strange presence which haunted the Demeter and apparently killed off its crew. Soon after, Lucy begins sleepwalking. One night, Mina wakes and finds her friend missing. Searching the cliffs near the town graveyard, she finds Lucy in the arms of a dark figure with red eyes who disappears when Mina approaches. Mina sees that Lucy has two pinprick marks on her throat. After she gets word that Jonathan is in a hospital in Budapest, Mina leaves to meet him.
Lucy's rejected suitor, Dr. Seward, runs an insane asylum in London. He notices a strange new behavior in one of his patients, Mr. Renfield. Renfield catches flies and eats them, then begins using the flies to attract spiders, and the spiders to attract birds, eating the larger animals. He also babbles incoherently about his "master." When Lucy returns to London from her vacation, her fianc´┐Ż, Arthur Holmwood, notices she appears pale and weak, and so he calls Dr. Seward to examine her. Seward brings in his mentor, the Dutch Dr. Van Helsing. Seward and Van Helsing watch helplessly as Lucy wastes away, apparently being drained of blood. They give her several blood transfusions, and Van Helsing places a wreath of garlic flowers around her neck, but she continues wasting away until she dies. As she approaches death, the doctors notice that Lucy's teeth begin to elongate, which Van Helsing sees as an ominous sign.
Jonathan and Mina Harker (the couple married while in Hungary) return to London, where they meet Seward and Van Helsing. Reports begin to surface of a mysterious woman known as the "bloofer lady" who lures small children away at night. Van Helsing claims that Lucy is somehow responsible, and convinces Seward, Morris, and Holmwood to accompany him to Lucy's grave one night. There they see the vampire Lucy with a child victim; the next night, they return and Holmwood drives a stake through Lucy's heart, "killing" her for good.
Van Helsing, Seward, Morris, Holmwood, and the Harkers gather at Seward's house, where Van Helsing explains his theory of vampirism. The six resolve to pool their resources and hunt down Count Dracula, who is apparently attempting to make London his new home. They discover that the Count has shipped fifty boxes of earth from Transylvania to Carfax Abbey, his property in London, which happens to be next door to Seward's asylum. The men go to explore the Abbey and find that more than twenty of the boxes are missing, which means Dracula must be seeking out new hiding places. Dracula kills Renfield, Dr. Seward's patient, but not before the madman warns them that Mina is falling under the Count's influence. Seward, Van Helsing, Morris, and Holmwood rush back to Seward's house, where they find Dracula forcing Mina to suck his blood. They drive the Count away, but Mina has been infected with vampirism.
The six form a plan to find all fifty boxes of earth and "sterilize" them with communion wafers and hoy water. They do this to the boxes at Carfax Abbey and track down several new properties which Dracula has bought throughout London. They find every box but one, which means Dracula still has a place of refuge. Through a psychic link which Mina has with the Count, the hunters determine that Dracula has sealed himself in the last box and had it placed on a ship bound for the Black Sea. They take a train to Varna, a city on the Black Sea, where they find that Dracula has headed up the River Sereth, which leads to the valley near his castle. The group splits up: Seward and Holmwood take a boat up the river; Morris and Harker follow on horseback; Mina and Van Helsing take a coach directly to the castle. As the three groups converge near Castle Dracula, they find a group of gypsies with Dracula's coffin in their wagon. The hunters attack, and when Harker and Holmwood drive their knives through Dracula's heart, he crumbles into dust. Quincey Morris is killed in the fight, and Mina and Jonathan Harker later name their first son after him.
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