Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

Book Details
Dracula in Love by Karen Essex
Hardcover, 384 Pages
2010, Doubleday
ISBN: 0385528914

From the shadowy banks of the river Thames to the wild and windswept Yorkshire coast, Dracula’s eternal muse, Mina Murray, vividly recounts the intimate details of what really transpired between her and the Count—the joys and terrors of a passionate affair that has linked them through the centuries, and her rebellion against her own frightening preternatural powers.

Mina’s version of this gothic vampire tale is a visceral journey into Victorian England’s dimly lit bedrooms, mist-filled cemeteries, and asylum chambers, revealing the dark secrets and mysteries locked within. Time falls away as she is swept into a mythical journey far beyond mortal comprehension, where she must finally make the decision she has been avoiding for almost a millennium. 

Bram Stoker’s classic novel offered one side of the story, in which Mina had no past and bore no responsibility for the unfolding events. Now, for the first time, the truth of Mina’s personal voyage, and of vampirism itself, is revealed. What this flesh and blood woman has to say is more sensual, more devious, and more enthralling than the Victorians could have expressed or perhaps even have imagined.

Dracula in Love is basically the original Dracula novel told from the female perspective, or more specifically, from Mina Harker's perspective. We learn her background and then see her side of the story, which means that Dracula in Love barely resembles the original novel.

I felt that Dracula in Love felt more authentic - much more realistic - than Stoker's Dracula given the time period. Instead of Renfield, we see Mina in the asylum. Women institutionalized for normal sexual appetites (by today's standards) were given horrific treatments in order to rid them of their deviant tendencies. I found this to be thoroughly engrossing and consider it to be the best part of the entire book.

Mina felt like a much stronger character in Dracula in Love, most likely because she is the main character and has a fully fleshed out backstory. Dracula becomes a romantic character, having loved Mina for multiple lifetimes. There seems to be no evil in him, but perhaps more of an indifference to human life. It was though all of the horror that Dracula was supposed to embody was sucked out, making him lovestruck and hopeful but slightly embittered by centuries of being ultimately rejected by the same woman time and again.

I did not love the vampire creation background explained in Dracula in Love. After some mentioning of both Lilith and Eve, Mina is given the credit for "creating" vampirism. It was predictable and seemed much too easy an explanation while still managing to be confusing by bringing in other supernatural species.

While all of the characters are much more fully realized than in the original Dracula, all of the men in Dracula in Love are portrayed as horrible people. In making the women more powerful, the men became nothing short of pitiful. Dracula in Love goes places that the original never dreamed and that, at times, both strengthens and weakens the story. If you ever wished Dracula had a more feminist angle or was more of a love story, Dracula in Love is sure to please. If you like your Dracula flavored with more evil and horror, I'd look elsewhere.


Karen Essex's website


  1. a visceral journey into Victorian England’s dimly lit bedrooms, mist-filled cemeteries, and asylum chambers, --- Jen, I really, really like this...oh, but you can paint a picture the reader can imagine...what a talent you have!! And, I loved your review. I'm not much into the horrors of it all so think I would enjoy this side of Dracula. Thanks for a super review.

  2. I have this one on my shelf but I'm having mixed feelings about getting around to reading it.

  3. I considered this one but am also having mixed feelings. I think I am going to read the original Dracula.

    Great review, I like that you said womans persepctive then said hers, lol

  4. I've heard of this, but I wasn't sure I ever really wanted to try it. While vampires are so overdone, this kind of intrigues me. Great review :)

  5. @Kittie Howard - lol - I would say thank you, but the synopsis is from Amazon.

    @carolsnotebook - It took me a while to get to it too. It wasn't the best for me, but I think those with a more romantic side will really enjoy it.

  6. @Marce - I'm not sure if having read Dracula helped or hindered the experience of reading this book. The overall plot is kind of the same, but her view of everything was so much different than what we see in Dracula that you notice it greatly.

    @Melissa - It's different in that it's a retelling of the "original" vampire novel. That said, I enjoyed the time at the mental institution much more than the actual vampire stuff.

  7. Yours is definitely the most intriguing review I've read of this book. I'm particularly interested (and not sure I'd like) the vampire creation story. Mina sounds like a far more interesting, multi-faceted character in this one, which I'm certain I'd like.

  8. I've been waiting to hear your thoughts on this one. I have to say, I'm intrigued by the part you mentioned regarding women sexual desires and horrific treatments they had to endure.

    And it does sound like it would be confusing to credit Mina as the maker of vampires but not explain other supes. LOL!

    Thanks for your honest review. I've added this one to my wish list!

  9. @Andi - Mina was definitely more interesting than she was in Dracula. I wasn't sold on the creation story, but it was unique.

    @Missie - Yeah, it definitely confused things by adding other things into the creation story, but I guess it really wouldn't have worked otherwise.

  10. i have to admit my shallowness, i just really really like this cover!

    do you think you need to read the original Dracula to enjoy/understand this "rewrite." ive never read Dracula, is that weird? thanks for your great review!

  11. @lustyreader - lol, I actually don't like the cover much. Well, actually I like the concept, but don't like the look of the model - if that makes any sense.

    I don't think you need to have read Dracula. I have read it and it made me notice the way the stories differed, but at no point did this book reference Dracula in a way that only those that read the original would understand.