The story begins with Jonathan Harker, a newly qualified English lawyer, being invited to Count Dracula's crumbling, remote castle (situated in the Carpathian Mountains on the border of Transylvania and Moldavia) to provide legal support for a real estate transaction on behalf of Harker's employer in London. At first seduced by the count's gracious manner, he soon discovers he has become a prisoner and begins to see disquieting facets of the count's daily life. Searching for a way out of the castle one night, he falls under the spell of three wanton female vampires, the Brides of Dracula but is saved at the last minute by the Count, who wants to retain Harker as a friend to teach him about London, where the Count plans to travel among the "teeming millions". Harker barely escapes from the castle with his life.
Not long afterward, a Russian ship runs aground during a fierce tempest, on the shores of Whitby, a coastal town in northern England. All passengers and crew are dead. A huge dog or wolf is seen running from the ship, which contains nothing but boxes of dirt from Transylvania: Count Dracula, in his animal form, has arrived in England.
Soon the count is menacing Harker's devoted fiancée, Wilhelmina "Mina" Murray, and her vivacious friend, Lucy Westenra. Lucy receives three marriage proposals in one day, from Hon. Arthur Holmwood (later Lord Godalming); an American cowboy, Quincey Morris; and an asylum psychiatrist, Dr. John Seward. There is a notable encounter between Dracula and Seward's patient Renfield, an insane man who means to consume insects, spiders, birds, and other creatures in ascending order of size in order to absorb their "life force". Renfield acts as a kind of motion sensor, detecting Dracula's proximity and supplying clues accordingly.
Lucy begins to waste away suspiciously. All her suitors fret, and Seward calls in his old teacher, Professor Abraham Van Helsing from Amsterdam. Van Helsing immediately determines the cause of Lucy's condition but refuses to disclose it, knowing that Seward's faith in him will be shaken if he starts to speak of vampires. Van Helsing tries multiple blood transfusions, but they are clearly losing ground. On a night when Van Helsing must return to Amsterdam (and his message to Seward asking him to watch the Westenra household is accidentally sent to the wrong address), Lucy and her mother are attacked by a wolf. Mrs Westenra, who has a heart condition, dies of fright, and Lucy herself apparently dies soon after.
Lucy is buried, but soon afterward the newspapers report a "bloofer lady" (sometimes explained as "beautiful lady") stalking children in the night. Van Helsing, knowing that this means Lucy has become a vampire, confides in Seward, Arthur, and Morris. The suitors and Van Helsing track her down, and after a disturbing confrontation between her vampiric self and Arthur, they stake her heart and behead her.
Around the same time, Jonathan Harker arrives home from Transylvania (where Mina joined and married him after his escape from the castle); he and Mina also join the coalition, who now turn their attentions to dealing with Dracula himself.
After Dracula learns of Van Helsing and the others' plot against him, he takes revenge by visiting - and biting - Mina at least three times. Dracula also feeds Mina his blood, creating a mental bond between them, aiming to control her. The only way to forestall this is to kill Dracula first. Mina slowly succumbs to the blood of the vampire that flows through her veins, switching back and forth from a state of consciousness to a state of semi-trance during which she is telepathically connected with Dracula. It is this connection that they start to use to track Dracula's movements. It is only possible to track Dracula's movements when Mina is put under hypnosis by Van Helsing. This ability is actually lost as the group makes their way to Dracula's castle.
Dracula flees back to his castle in Transylvania, followed by Van Helsing's gang, who manage to track him down just before sundown and destroy him by shearing "through the throat" and stabbing him in the heart with a Bowie knife. Dracula crumbles to dust, his spell is lifted and Mina is freed from the marks. Quincey Morris is killed in the final battle, stabbed by Gypsies; the survivors return to England.
It is never revealed if Dracula is really killed because his death was distinctly different from Lucy's, and Van Helsing never says anything about vampires being able to be killed by normal blades.
The book closes with a note about Mina's and Jonathan's married life and the birth of their first-born son, whom they name Quincey in remembrance of their American friend.
(R) thedailystar.net 2007