Title: Dracula in Love
Author: Karen Essex
Pub: 2010; DoubleDay
Genre: Historical Fiction, Classic Retelling
The Short of It
Every story has many different perspectives.
The Long of It
Dracula, oh how I loved thee. Seriously. I’m sure you’re familiar with the story. It’s eerie. It’s all about Otherness. And maybe some love. With a bit of chivalry and propriety thrown in for Victorian sprinkles. I’ll not recap it, but you can read it for free here (amongst many other places). Move along please.
The Thoughts about It
I find myself being completely on the fence with this book. There was a point in reading it when I thought to myself it would have been better left NOT being a re-telling of the classical tale, Dracula. Alternatively, there were moments where I wanted to gleefully shout: You Go Girl! I knew that you weren’t a Victorian putz.
Confused are you? Well, what can I say, I read this book in two days and it wreaked havoc on my life whilst doing so.
First, YES I WANTED TO RUN BACK TO MY COPY OF DRACULA AND COMPARE SCENES. Let’s just get that out of the way. For, you see, this tale is told from Mina’s point of view, and let’s just say she’s not nearly the dame that you always perceived her for.
*drumming fingers* Where to begin…where to begin…
Mina is our literary hostess and she opens up with this esoteric: everyone has secrets, sorta line. In which we know that we are soon to find out what REALLY happened between her, Jonathon, Lucy and the Count. And – oh yes – those other boys as well. Can I just tell you that I love unreliable narratives? And especially so if the unreliable narrative is calling into question another narrative that I had previously read? It’s like a double scoop of chocolate ice cream WITH chocolate syrup on it to boot.
Mina, oh dear Mina. She is in lurve with Jonathon and he’s a pretty decent guy because he let’s her hang out with her bestie Kate (who I don’t believe is in the original story) and Kate is all-business-journalist-even-though-Imma-woman-hear-me-roar. Score one for Jonathon; Victorian principles, zero. And then Jonathon goes off on his own adventure and Mina goes to Lucy to hang out and Lucy is in love but guess what. She’s not in love with the soon to be Lord G. Oh no, and Lucy ain’t the innocent and pristine Victorian lady either. In fact, one might call her a wee bit loose.
Let the erotica begin. Because yes, dear readers, there are some hawt and heavy scenes taking place. (I was especially taken with the erotica that took place in the dream state where poor Mina didn’t know if she was losing her mind AND her virginity). The erotica was done tastefully by my standards…but I hardly know what tasteful erotica really is because I don’t come into contact with it. Mind you, I’m hardly opposed, but I just have too many flashbacks of “his throbbing loins” coming back to me from adolescent readings of Historical Romances. The best I can say is the sex scenes weren’t so over the top that part of me felt it necessary to go to a sex therapist.
And aside from every now and again a cheesy line got mixed in with the story, I was diggin it.
Ooooh, and let me tell you what was most horrific. The asylum pieces. Wowzers. We are taken step by step through a water treatment and seriously I thought there was a moment when I stopped breathing because I thought I might drown. I cannot say that Essex doesn’t know how to write, that’s for sure.
So yeah, it was interesting seeing how Essex handled the characters and explained their whereabouts and especially drew the conclusion. As you might guess from the title the Count is not so evil and “Bwhahahaha” stricken. Oh, and if you were on the fence about reading this book because on the cover it says: “Dracula in Love is the novel for Twilight’s grown-up fans.” IGNORE PLEASE. This quote is not only WRONG it’s insulting. There are no sparkly moments, and the mythology created is much more detailed and believable folklore. Why must we continue to compare worlds to Twilight.
If you loved Dracula, read it. If you never read Dracula, heck, you can read this one before and you’re be fine (although my preference always goes with reading the original). I’m sure there’s lost of commentary on Victorian life to be dissecting in Essex’s viewpoint, but I’m not your gal for that. I’d love to hear comments from those who have, though.
Side Note - Man, don't you just LOVE that cover?! It's one of the best I've seen.