Developer: PADWORX
Price: $4.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0.0
Device Reviewed On: iPad

iPad Integration Rating: ★★★★☆
User Interface Rating: ★★★★☆
Re-use Value Rating: ★★★☆☆
Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Dracula: The Official Stoker Family edition is one of those apps that polarizes readers. One group wants their ebooks unadorned and as close to the look and feel of traditional books as possible. This group, alas, will find a great deal to despair about in this new Dracula app. The other group sees ebooks as a truly new form of media – text-based, yes, but also capable of incorporating music, sound and graphics to make the a t of reading even more interactive than it already is. For this group, Dracula might just prove to be their Holy Grail.

Like it or not, the fully interactive ebook is a reality. We’ve already seen short stories in this format, such as The Pedlar Lady, but Dracula: The Official Stoker Family Edition takes this format to an entirely new level. Almost every page of this (slightly abridged) version of Bram Stoker’s gothic classic has some interactive or multimedia element. Some of these are simple – pocket watch and chain that can be moved around the screen – but others are almost puzzle-like in refinement. One page has secret content embedded that can only be seen if you wipe your finger (smearing your virtual blood) all over the page. Much of the design work here is clever, and I have to tip my hat to developer Padworx for making the conversion so thorough. Whether you find their work distracting or enchanting, you can’t fault them for their devotion to the design.

For those willing to give it a try, Dracula: The Official Stoker Family Edition (so-called because it is the only ebook version of the text to receive the endorsement of the Stoker family estate) has loads of riches to uncover, including secret files such as the entire silent film Nosferatu. Persistence and a tendency to explore will definitely pay off.

The only issue I have with the app is the somewhat cartoony/comic book style of art that adorns many of the pages. Most of the time this is not a major issue, if an issue at all, but it does rear it’s head whenever there is a depiction of a character in the book. Most of the characters end up looking like something out of the recent Twilight graphic novel, and that’s really not a compliment.

Personal aesthetic judgments aside, Dracula: TOSFE is ambitious and sometimes absolutely audacious, but it does show the potential for ebooks. Consider it the birth of a new form – the high tech pop-up novel.



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