Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

Title: Dracula in Love
Author: Karen Essex
Pages: 384
Genre: Paranormal/ Historical Fiction
Source: Doubleday
From the shadowy banks of the River Thames to the wild and windswept coast of Yorkshire, the quintessential Victorian virgin Mina Murray vividly recounts in the pages of her private diary the intimate details of what transpired between her and Count Dracula—the joys and terrors of a pas­sionate affair and her rebellion against a force of evil that has pursued her through time.

Mina’s version of this timeless gothic vampire tale is a visceral journey into the dimly lit bedrooms, mist-filled cemeteries, and locked asylum chambers where she led a secret life, far from the chaste and polite lifestyle the defenders of her purity, and even her fiancĂ©, Jonathan Harker, expected of her.

Bram Stoker’s classic novel was only one side of the story. Now, for the first time, Dracula’s eternal muse reveals all. What she has to say is more sensual, more devious, and more enthralling than ever imagined. The result is a scintillating gothic novel that reinvents the tragic heroine Mina as a modern woman tor­tured by desire. [via GoodReads]
First things first, I must confess that I have never read Bram Stoker's Dracula, nor have I seen the movie. You must also know that I only know very little of who Mina Murray is.  I know she and Dracula have always been linked together but as to the nature of their relationship - that was a mystery to me... "was" being the key word since this book did clarify that.

Told through Mina's perspective, we learn of the dark stranger who has been a key figure in many of her dreams since childhood.  We also get glimpses into Mina's upbringing and lifestyle now as a woman.  Throughout the story you meet various characters - that while I'm not familiar with, I have come to learn that they are well-known within the classic vampire lore - Jonathan Harker, journalist Kate Reed, Lucy Westenra and even Dr. Seward and the infamous Dr. Von Helsinger who run a creepy asylum together.  Count Vladimir Drakulya (a/k/a Dracula) is not as present as I would have liked.  He does create great ambiance for the story though.  He is a figure that although not physically present for much of the story, he is crucial to it and much of what shapes Mina's thoughts.  If you've read Elizabeth Kostova's The Historian, you'll be able to relate.  

Some things you may or may not know about this book - Ms. Essex does a great job of describing the relationship between Mina and Dracula, you really get a grasp for the appeal she holds over him.  Not to mention you can tell she did her homework with her details to the time frame the story is set in. Notwithstanding its Victorian setting, and although she does abide by the restraints woman had to adhere to at the time, Mina is a strong-willed woman, she's passionate and brave.  I really liked that she was not fragile and delicate as some related stories may lead you to believe... a wilting flower, if you may.  She stood her ground when it came to her beliefs.  The more (ahem) sexual scenes were graphic and well ... on the passionate side (if you catch my drift).  The scenes in the asylum were downright horrifying and even nightmare inducing.  It's not that great of an idea to read this late into the night or while home alone.  If you're like me you'll be scared out of your wits by anything that goes bump in the night.

I did have a few complaints though - I thought the first half of the book would never end.  It dragged for me for a few hundred pages - luckily I did stick it out and it eventually picked up.  I thought there were a lot of filler pages and even whole areas that could have just been edited out (that whole near-rape scene at the beginning - what was that about?)   The parts that really kept me interested revolved around the asylum scenes - and I was mostly terrified reading these. 

All in all, this will definitely appeal to historical fiction fans as well as to those who love classic Dracula lore... It is fast- paced (once you are half-way through), with many a twist and turn.  Sadly, for me it just didn't work - and I'm truly saddened to say that because I really wanted to like it. 

My Rating:


Tales of Whimsy said...

Fantastic review.
Thanks for the cautionary notes :)
I think I'm going to pass on this one.

Missie, The Unread Reader said...

Wha? Dracula, never?! Whoa. But yeah, I understand. A lot of people haven't read it.

Mina is a character that has be fictionalized in many different ways, sometime as a helpless victim, sometimes as a heroic badass. Hopeless Romantic is one I'd side I hadn't even thought of, because she is not in the original. How can she be?

I'm not sure how I'd like this one. I've seen a few reviews and they all say about the same thing. Regardless, because it is Mina and Dracula (the Romeo and Juliet of their time) I think I'm going to have to give it a shot.


brizmus said...

I don't know if I've read Dracula or seen the movie, either.
This sounds like a book I would like, though, despite your cautionary notes.
I might check it out!

Vickie said...

I have this on my wishlist with Recorded Books, so I get to listen to the story and, thanks to your review, I will listen to it in the daytime on my commute for work or at my desk (also in the daytime).

Kailana said...

I think I will read this at some point. Nothing pressing, but it does sound interesting to a degree.

Veens said...

Thanks for the review, I don't think this one is for me!

Caroline said...

This is a great review. I am intrigued by the book but don't think I would read it any day soon. Thanks.

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