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Dracula in Love

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From the shadowy banks of the River Thames to the wild and windswept Yorkshire coast, Dracula's beautiful, eternal muse, Mina-the most famous woman in vampire lore-vividly recounts the joys and terrors of a passionate affair that has linked her and Count Dracula through the centuries, and her rebellion against her own frightening preternatural powers. Mina's vampire tale is From the shadowy banks of the River Thames to the wild and windswept Yorkshire coast, Dracula's beautiful, eternal muse, Mina-the most famous woman in vampire lore-vividly recounts the joys and terrors of a passionate affair that has linked her and Count Dracula through the centuries, and her rebellion against her own frightening preternatural powers. Mina's vampire tale is a compelling journey into Victorian England's dimly lit bedrooms, mist-filled cemeteries and terrifying asylum chambers, revealing the dark secrets and mysteries locked within. Time falls away as she confronts perils far beyond mortal comprehension and must finally make the decision she has been avoiding for almost a millennium.


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From the shadowy banks of the River Thames to the wild and windswept Yorkshire coast, Dracula's beautiful, eternal muse, Mina-the most famous woman in vampire lore-vividly recounts the joys and terrors of a passionate affair that has linked her and Count Dracula through the centuries, and her rebellion against her own frightening preternatural powers. Mina's vampire tale is From the shadowy banks of the River Thames to the wild and windswept Yorkshire coast, Dracula's beautiful, eternal muse, Mina-the most famous woman in vampire lore-vividly recounts the joys and terrors of a passionate affair that has linked her and Count Dracula through the centuries, and her rebellion against her own frightening preternatural powers. Mina's vampire tale is a compelling journey into Victorian England's dimly lit bedrooms, mist-filled cemeteries and terrifying asylum chambers, revealing the dark secrets and mysteries locked within. Time falls away as she confronts perils far beyond mortal comprehension and must finally make the decision she has been avoiding for almost a millennium.

30 review for Dracula in Love

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jenny Q

    First off, the title is misleading. There is no love involved in this story. There's a lot of lust, but no evidence of stronger feelings. And since this is told in Mina's first-person POV, we don't get to know Dracula or his feelings at all. I wanted to put this down around page 50 after reading an awful, cringe-worthy description of masturbation, but I felt obligated to keep reading. The whole novel is like one long mindtrip, and in the end it just didn't make a lot of sense to me--and there we First off, the title is misleading. There is no love involved in this story. There's a lot of lust, but no evidence of stronger feelings. And since this is told in Mina's first-person POV, we don't get to know Dracula or his feelings at all. I wanted to put this down around page 50 after reading an awful, cringe-worthy description of masturbation, but I felt obligated to keep reading. The whole novel is like one long mindtrip, and in the end it just didn't make a lot of sense to me--and there were several more cringe-worthy sexual descriptions along the way. I kept reading because I liked Mina and I felt very sorry for her, and I kept waiting for the payoff, waiting for that moment where I could say, That's it--there's the heart of the story, that's the point of it all! But it never came.

  2. 3 out of 5

    Misty

    4-ish. Dracula in Love isn't just a fill-in-the-gaps retelling of Dracula, fleshing out the story from Mina's point of view.  No, it is a sort of feminist retelling in which Mina asserts that the story that everyone knows, the story that's been told by men, is false.  True to their Victorian beliefs and morés, the men have cast the women of the story as either saints of harridans, relegating them to sidelines to seethe or swoon as they may.  But thinking, feeling, intelligent Mina isn't having it 4-ish. Dracula in Love isn't just a fill-in-the-gaps retelling of Dracula, fleshing out the story from Mina's point of view.  No, it is a sort of feminist retelling in which Mina asserts that the story that everyone knows, the story that's been told by men, is false.  True to their Victorian beliefs and morés, the men have cast the women of the story as either saints of harridans, relegating them to sidelines to seethe or swoon as they may.  But thinking, feeling, intelligent Mina isn't having it.  There is so much  more to Mina's story, things her husband and the doctors and lovers who have spun the story so far have no idea about.  Because for Mina, the story begins long before Jonathan travels to the continent to do business with a Count... It's been a long, long while since I read Dracula.  I was thirteen, and I devoured it, but in some ways, it left me unsatisfied.  I think that same dissatisfaction may have been the impetus for Essex's reimagining of the tale, at least in part.  I mean, the story is so wrought with Victorian fear of female sexuality and human passions in general, so to have it told by a female character who is neither sinner nor saint but just human and humanly flawed, with human cravings - it fills the tale out and makes it more authentic and powerful to me.  I really, really liked the idea of getting Mina's side of the story, and of having Mina be lass passive and perfect and more passionate and strong.  In that respect, I got what I  wanted out of the story. But what I wasn't expecting, and what I found most fascinating, was her interactions with the men of the story, human and inhuman alike.  Dracula's role in this is not the demonic, power-mad, lustful creep of a villain.  Or at least, not for the most part.  There is certainly a fair amount of lust and a good deal of power and submission.  But he bears no resemblance to this guy in looks or manner.   Though he is somewhat...unnatural, I guess you'd say, he's not really the villain of the piece.  Dracula doesn't appear to be all-encompassing evil.  He was terrifying to the Victorians for what he made them confront (lust, mortality), but a thinking, passionate woman need not necessarily fear, so Mina's reaction to him, slowly evolving, intrigued, is appropriate and enjoyable. All of the domineering men, Drs. Seward and Von Helsinger, Arthur Holmwood/Godalming, even sometimes Mina's husband Jonathan, they're the ones you have to watch out for.  And they're the perfect types of villains to creep the bejeezus out of me, because they are overzealous fools given unchecked power they shouldn't have, over people who have no real defense against them.  Reasons this makes my skin crawl more than monsters under my bed: a) they feel completely justified in the awful things they do, b) their victims have no real recourse, because in the eyes of the law, they are justified, c) just by virtue of being men, they win control, and anything one could try to take control back would further cement their authority and add to their claims that everything they're doing is justified, and d) they are 100% real.  I mean, not these particular characters, of course.  But men like them, Victorian psychiatrists and the like, really did exist and practice horrific things on people whom we would consider completely sane.  It's this horrible vicious circle that meant that any woman in the Victorian era who had the audacity to express a lustful thought was fair game for their experimentation and "curing" and if she dared stand up for herself and fight, it was further proof that she was insane and needed curing. I think this is where Essex's book shines.  Her human characters can be pretty monstrous, and her portrait of Victorian life and what it meant to be a woman, especially a passionate woman, is very well realized.  You can tell she has done a lot of research and a lot of work to bring Mina's world to life.  Mina herself straddles the line between proper Victorian woman and fully-realized, passionate woman.  She has friends in her life who aren't afraid to express their passions and break the mold, and they are presented in realistic ways, as forward-thinking suffragettes, etc, lending more authenticity to the tale.  Because of them, Mina doesn't feel out of place, and the story doesn't feel false or as unrealistic as it could have, given the setting.  It was reminiscent of the original, but modern and feminist and womanly enough to be believable.  I'm sure Mina would have struggled with some of the things she struggled with, and the feelings and dreams and ordinary experience of sexual awakening and how startling that is for her.  From this aspect, it is very well done. There were some minor setbacks for me.  There were times, especially in the beginning, when I just wanted the story to move on.  I am not a big fan of excessive description; I am all for setting a scene, and for showing, not telling, but I get more than a little antsy when I feel like useless description has brought the action to a halt.  This is a style preference, and I know there are plenty of readers out there who love to have all the minutia described so that they can really see everything in detail.  But for me, there were times when I wanted to skim or set the book aside because it wasn't getting on with it at a quick enough pace for me.  This was less a problem for me as the story moved along and got into the meat of it, especially once they reached the asylum. I think there are also those who will be put off by the sexualization of the story.   I never found it to be pornographic per se, but it certainly leans toward the erotic at some points.  I think this is in keeping with the original in a weird way, since it was so very much about repression and forbidden sexuality (ie, everything that screams Victorian...).  While it's never what I would really call explicit, it will most certainly make some people blush; I wouldn't suggest reading it to your grandma.  (Well,  I may have read this to my grandma.  She would have cracked up.)  There were times when everything was a little over the top for me, or a little timed ("It's been X pages, time for some writhing...").  But overall, I found it an interesting way to modernly explore what was actually a sexualized tale à la Victorian morés. I don't remember Dracula enough to really compare specifics, but I think it's certainly an interesting riff on the story.  Especially to have Mina telling the tale, firmly and with conviction, because Mina was always the focal point for me anyway.  The added gothic elements,  like Mina's lifelong bouts with supernatural and Essex's take on the vampire mythology, as well as the very creepy, very gothic and very authentic use of early psychiatry, really brought the book to another level, and made it creepy in a new, modern way.  (That sounds like a contradiction, that the use of the Victorian beliefs made it creepy in a modern way.  But I think you know what I mean.  I hope.)  It didn't completely sweep me off my feet, but for the most part, I was pretty pleased with Essex's take and the Mina she presents.  If you're not adverse to a little lovin', and you enjoy the gothic ambiance, I'd recommend this one.

  3. 5 out of 5

    M—

    Beach Vacation Read #6: My habit of borrowing any ebook that sounds remotely interesting does not always pay off. DNF. This is dire. It starts off with high purple prose in its pseudo-Victorian way, and it only gets worse from there. The heroine is sexually assaulted by page 11 and spends half her time during the assault fretting about what other people would think of her morals, in particular what her fiancé would think:In my mind, I saw Jonathan receive the news, his stricken face turning white Beach Vacation Read #6: My habit of borrowing any ebook that sounds remotely interesting does not always pay off. DNF. This is dire. It starts off with high purple prose in its pseudo-Victorian way, and it only gets worse from there. The heroine is sexually assaulted by page 11 and spends half her time during the assault fretting about what other people would think of her morals, in particular what her fiancé would think:In my mind, I saw Jonathan receive the news, his stricken face turning white, shying away from me in disgust. How could any man, even one as kind as Jonathan, look upon a woman the same way after this kind of shame? (pp. 11-12)This is a sentiment perhaps appropriate for the historical setting, but I found it appalling to read here. Luckily for the heroine, as the scene progresses, she did not need to fear for she was rescued from her rapist by page 13, still technically a virgin, by the fortuitous intercession of a mysterious and alluring man who then retreats into the night in a paragraph that makes me think the author secretly wanted to write a screenplay instead of a novel:In the distance, I saw a shiny black coach with unlit lanterns and two strong black steeds to lead it. Thunder crashed again, and lightning darted through the open sky. The horses neighed, one rearing on its hind legs, while the other seemed to call out to the heavens. (pp. 13-14)The prose actually gets progressively worse, until by page 45 the heroine is describing the joy of discovering masturbation (at age twenty-two, the precocious girl). Which leads me to my killscene for this novel, the line of which I absolutely could not read beyond:I felt nothing but the wet, creamy, hot walls of my own body. (pp. 45-46)One thing I have to say about ebooks: The format makes it terribly difficult to leaf through a book in the hope of coming across any scenes to reengage my interest. In lieu of that, I checked some other readers' reviews to see if there was any part of this book worth getting back into and found (aside from the fact I am not the only reader to have found the masturbation scene cringeworthy) a blurb for this book stating it was "the novel for Twilight's grownup fans." — according to Michelle Moran, an author I've never heard of before but am now actively avoiding. Only the fact I was reading this on my precious ereader kept me from flinging the book to the wall in disgust. Quotes pulled from ISBN 9780385533614. Beach Vacation Reading List (November 2011) #1 | Silver Phoenix #2 | The Steerswoman's Road #3 | Kraken #4 | Feed #5 | Witches Abroad #6 | Dracula in Love #7 | A Moveable Feast #8 | Speed of Dark

  4. 5 out of 5

    Willow

    I think Karen Essex has some beautiful prose. She has a sensual, seductive, and wonderfully descriptive way of writing that lured me in and made me think this would be a wonderful book. I love gothic books, and “Dracula in Love” is definitely that. The problem with this book is there isn’t much of Dracula in it. Two-hundred words in, and he still hadn’t made much of an appearance The book wasn’t really about him, or his love. Yes, I got caught up in the rather fascinating story about the horror o I think Karen Essex has some beautiful prose. She has a sensual, seductive, and wonderfully descriptive way of writing that lured me in and made me think this would be a wonderful book. I love gothic books, and “Dracula in Love” is definitely that. The problem with this book is there isn’t much of Dracula in it. Two-hundred words in, and he still hadn’t made much of an appearance The book wasn’t really about him, or his love. Yes, I got caught up in the rather fascinating story about the horror of hysteria and how women could be so easily incarcerated in mental hospitals, but I feel like if Essex wanted to write about that, she shouldn’t have dragged all the characters from Dracula into her story. People who are attracted to Dracula usually want to read about vampires, blood and hinted at sex, and there just isn’t enough of that in this book. Anyway, I was still happily reading along, when all of sudden this book takes a swan dive into WTF. Talk about a lame ending. It was too rushed, too unbelievable, and had me rolling my eyes. It was almost like Essex was getting to the end and she realized, oops, I need to put Dracula in my story. Then she rushed through this implausible narration that I found I didn’t care about. For a book to start off so well, I thought it ended badly. I still will give the book three stars though. :D

  5. 5 out of 5

    Amy

    The dustcover of this book promises "Karen Essex breathes startling new life into the characters of Bram Stoker's Dracula." While it's true her novel is a retelling of the Dracula story from Mina Murray's point of view, there's nothing startling or lively about her characters. I was intrigued at first, reading through a few chapters with hopeful enthusiasm. Fifty pages in, I was both disatisfied and bored. The only thing 'startling' about the book were a few egregious sexual scenes and the compl The dustcover of this book promises "Karen Essex breathes startling new life into the characters of Bram Stoker's Dracula." While it's true her novel is a retelling of the Dracula story from Mina Murray's point of view, there's nothing startling or lively about her characters. I was intrigued at first, reading through a few chapters with hopeful enthusiasm. Fifty pages in, I was both disatisfied and bored. The only thing 'startling' about the book were a few egregious sexual scenes and the complete absence of Essex's Dracula character. The author's characterization of the main character, Mina Murray, was downright maddening. She vacillated so swiftly and dramatically, a reader could get motion sickness: Mina was strong! No, she was weak, and cried, and had to be carried (a lot). She had decided! No, she had changed her mind - sometimes in the same paragraph. She raged and fought, she wept and sucuumbed. The whole premise of this book is that Dracula had not just desired Mina, but had loved her. Essex gives us nothing in her characterization of the 'heroine' to love. Frankly, I disliked Mina from the beginning and learned to loathe her by the end. And although Essex insists that the characters of Count Dracula and Mina Murray love each other, there was nothing in their interaction that convinced me of the fact. I saw lust and desire, but nothing of a more tender nature (well, except for the parts in which he carried her, and frankly, I think that was out of an impatient need to get to the next part of the story). Dracula was no better presented. He wasn't just brooding, he was pouty. He would MAKE Mina remember their love across time. No wait, he would be patient and let her remember on her own. The only thing Essex's characters did consistently was change their minds. I'm not sure how or why I finished reading this book. Normally, any reading material that made me this frustrated would have been abandoned halfway through. Essex had a rather complicated sub-plot regarding Mina Murray's origins, however, and perhaps I was curious to see where she might take it. Like Essex's characterization, this subplot could have been written plausibly, but in the end, fell short, made me roll my eyes, and think 'Oh, puh-lease.'. I finished Dracula in Love at 1am last night, with a muttered, "Well, that was a waste of my time." and promptly fell asleep. It didn't thrill or frighten me. It didn't seduce or titillate me. All I can say is, I'm glad I got this from the library rather than spending my hard earned money on it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Traci

    Okay, feminist Dracula. Where do I start with you? I think I read Dracula for the first time at around eight years old. I can remember the exact book, where I got it, what I felt... everything. And I loved it. It's a classic. And in case you've been living under a rock for forever, it's a Victorian novel. And yeah the biting is a metaphor for sex. I mention this for two reasons: one, because this novel contains some very un-Victorian ideas and there's less metaphor for sex and more actual sex. An Okay, feminist Dracula. Where do I start with you? I think I read Dracula for the first time at around eight years old. I can remember the exact book, where I got it, what I felt... everything. And I loved it. It's a classic. And in case you've been living under a rock for forever, it's a Victorian novel. And yeah the biting is a metaphor for sex. I mention this for two reasons: one, because this novel contains some very un-Victorian ideas and there's less metaphor for sex and more actual sex. And it wasn't the most awesome sex. But we'll get to that. Yes, Dracula is a pretty sexist novel, when you get down to it. But rewriting Dracula to make all the male characters the bad guys because they're oppressing female sexuality and using a classic novel to stick it to the man is reaaaaaally not going to rewrite history. Women were oppressed, sure. Making Mina a forward-thinking woman doesn't change that. I'm not saying the entire book was bad. The writing was actually pretty well done. It doesn't flawlessly follow the source novel but it's close enough, and that's fine, considering it's a rewrite and all that. And part of me is really glad to see a novel from Mina's point of view because it's Mina but on the other hand I don't think (view spoiler)[turning Mina Murray Harker into a fairy princess is entirely the right direction to go. (hide spoiler)] Just... yikes. I feel like if this was going to be done (again), it probably shouldn't have been done like this.

  7. 3 out of 5

    Doria

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. What an awful book. I thought, having read Twilight, that the reading market was sated - no, bloated - with fluff about fey blood-suckers and their fetchingly helpless "prey" (adoring idiot-girls with poor judgment). Sadly I was wrong, as this latest offering proved. As usual with these latest examples of the airport novel genre, the writing is just satisfactory enough to offer up a hope - soon dashed - that the book in question will offer some point of originality, perhaps in character developm What an awful book. I thought, having read Twilight, that the reading market was sated - no, bloated - with fluff about fey blood-suckers and their fetchingly helpless "prey" (adoring idiot-girls with poor judgment). Sadly I was wrong, as this latest offering proved. As usual with these latest examples of the airport novel genre, the writing is just satisfactory enough to offer up a hope - soon dashed - that the book in question will offer some point of originality, perhaps in character development, or striking plot twist, or some such literary tidbit. Nope. However, of all the injuries inflicted upon readers' sensibilities, the egregious use of the name "Dracula" is probably the worst slap in the face that author Essex inflicts upon her readers. I took offense at her abuse of the trust and hope that we readers would naturally place in anyone who dares to wield the title of the great and venerable Vampyr. Her ridiculous assertion - that this beloved and feared Dracula is not what he seems to be but something, er, else made me laugh out loud when I got to that "big exciting plot twist" that she had been so carefully leading up to. I'll save you the time you might otherwise waste in reading her book: her "dracula" (the lower case is intentional on my part) is a fairy. Yes, you read that right, dracula is a one of the Little People, who flit about and cast spells, and marry mortals from time to time, and sort of like blood, but that isn't really necessary to their survival, but it's sort of nice for when they and their mortals engage in - sex? what is it that they do during those tiresome hot 'n heavy scenes ? impenetrable as far as I could tell. Blood is taken and sometimes exchanged, but not always because it can be toxic for the mortals, but sort of not, and WHAT IS SHE TALKING ABOUT, THIS MAKES NO SENSE AND IT IS STUPID!!!!! Sorry for the outburst, but reading this book was an exercise in futility and frustration. Essex's dracula doesn't sparkle, but he is just as far from being a vampire as was Edward Cullen. He scared me about as much as a day-old kitten, and had somewhat less personality. He loves her, he withdraws from her emotionally, he hates her 'cause she's pregnant and doesn't know it, (a pregnant sort-of-vampire? again??) but he wants to spend eternity with her, but only after she reincarnates after she dies (but wait, I thought she was an immortal vampire? sort of?), but oops now there's a fight scene, etc. Oh, enough already. Nobody buys this nonsense! And not because it's fiction, but because it is implausible and contrived. There's a difference. I need to speak out about the recent proliferation of watered-down weak-tea books claiming to be about vampires. Enough already. Enough with the semi-effeminate pretty boy vampires who love stupid girls. Enough with vampires who aren't really vampires, who smell sweet and taste like strawberries, and don't want to hurt you because you are so fragile and they are so testosterone-powerful (despite the lack of facial hair). People, I'm only going to repeat this one more time: vampires are undead, terrifying, and smell like the grave. They are full of blood that they have sucked out of some poor person's body. Not out of philosophical angst, or a moody adolescent snit. They steal the blood of the living because they have an insatiable thirst for our blood, and an overwhelming instinct to survive, to make it through one more horrible undead night, no matter what the cost to humanity. Let's not over-romanticize this, shall we? Let's keep it scary, and - within the realm of fiction writing - let's keep it real. Oh, another thing that I despised about "Dracula in Love" is the stomach-turning rape scene at the beginning of the book, a horribly commonplace occurrence in books of poor quality, where the author takes desperate measures to shock and appall and hold onto her readers, in a transparent attempt to make them feel sympathy and pity for her main female protagonist. Why do so many female writers of tepid fiction write these elaborate scenes of female violation and degradation, followed by interminable pages in which the female's helplessness is countered or "cured" by some kind of supernatural male solution to all her problems? No wait, please don't answer that. As usual, I stuck it through, and finished the book, a kind of personal honor code of mine, whereby I feel compelled to finish a book that I dislike, if only to better criticize it when I am through reading it. But it wasn't until the end, when I read Essex's parting shot at Bram Stoker - who is dead and cannot defend himself, what cowardice!!! - that I got just plain angry. She says, and I quote: "I do not know what will become of [Bram Stoker's] story. Thus far, despite its sensational tone and its gripping narrative, it has failed to sell many copies or capture critical acclaim. Like almost all works of fiction, I am sure that it will be read by a few, and in the coming years, all copies not thrown out with the rubbish or lost in fires or other disasters, will rot in musty libraries until the shelves are purged to make way for newer and more relevant stories." The irony of this insult is that it is delivered by an author whose work cannot come close to that of Stoker's, either for literary excellence or sheer terrifying suspenseful drama. I strongly encourage readers to a) skip "Dracula in Love" and b) hie themselves to the "musty libraries" or bookstores that Essex's main character derides so unconvincingly, get a copy of Stoker's Dracula, and read it cover to cover. I promise you you won't be disappointed, the way I was when I read "Dracula in love". And, dear fellow readers, please let's all agree to demand - and read - higher quality vampire literature in the future. It's time I reread Interview With A Vampire, and Dracula, and any number of the other well-written vampire novels out there, just to clear the bad taste of strawberry-tasting blood out of my mouth.

  8. 3 out of 5

    Theresa

    Everyone remembers Bram Stoker's "Dracula". It was a tale of horror and everyone knew that vampires were the "bad guys". But were they? Karen Essex takes Stoker's tale and gives it a twist. Following the same timeline, using the same characters and written in much of the same format "Dracula in Love" gives a total different view. In the Prologue of the book, Mina Murray Harker states: "Unlike most people whose lives remain private, my story has been written by another, sold for money and offered Everyone remembers Bram Stoker's "Dracula". It was a tale of horror and everyone knew that vampires were the "bad guys". But were they? Karen Essex takes Stoker's tale and gives it a twist. Following the same timeline, using the same characters and written in much of the same format "Dracula in Love" gives a total different view. In the Prologue of the book, Mina Murray Harker states: "Unlike most people whose lives remain private, my story has been written by another, sold for money and offered to the public for entertainment. The author of the fiction claims to be above reproach because his records are "exactly contemporary". But these "records" are falsified documents, based on the the lies of a cabal of murderers desperate to conceal their dark deeds." She then continues on with the "real" story. The story of her life, her engagement, Lucy, the doctors, and of course, The Count. This story is a tale of erotic obsession and a romantic love that goes deep - centuries deep. It is also a tale of horror and sadness and a realization that all is not as it seems. I adored the original "Dracula" and really was wondering how Ms. Essex was going to pull this one off. Ah, she did an impeccable job making me wonder and feel that her story was really the truth and the other was just a fabricated lie to make money. Oh, yes. Mina's story was powerful and captivating. I took my time reading this novel. It screamed that it needed to be savored, and savor it I did. This book will be one that will stick with me for a while. Being a Dracula fan (it's one of my favorites) this novel shook and twisted my views of many of the characters. It now feels like it belongs with the original story - like the flip side of the coin. If you haven't read Stoker's "Dracula", don't worry. You won't feel you are missing a thing, but you will most likely want to read it after you've finished "Dracula in Love" because you'll need to know what is in the original story. If you have read and enjoyed Stoker's Dracula, you will want to read this version! This is one of my favorite reads this year! Highly recommended. Parental warning: Contains some descriptive sexual content.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Geraldine O'Hagan

    This is a terrible book. Not only is it derivative in concept and lacking in style, but it's also incredibly lazy. If you're going to write a faux-Victorian novel then I would think it wise to do at least some very basic research first, in order that it isn't full of glaring errors. With the best will in the world, even if the book had been otherwise fantastic it would have been hard not to laugh at an Anglo-Irish Victorian lady shouting at Dracula "Quit following me!", or the sight of vultures This is a terrible book. Not only is it derivative in concept and lacking in style, but it's also incredibly lazy. If you're going to write a faux-Victorian novel then I would think it wise to do at least some very basic research first, in order that it isn't full of glaring errors. With the best will in the world, even if the book had been otherwise fantastic it would have been hard not to laugh at an Anglo-Irish Victorian lady shouting at Dracula "Quit following me!", or the sight of vultures swooping over Whitby going unremarked. None of the characters seem even half-way believable as either Victorians or people. Plus, having waited half the novel for Dracula to appear he turns out to be an ineffectual, sulking bore. Not as anticlimactic as The Historian (Elizabeth Kostova), nor, mercifully, as long. Don't take that as a recommendation though. Every idea in this book has been done to death elsewhere, and almost certainly done better. A rethinking of Mina Harker? Try 'The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen' (Alan Moore). Mina and Dracula's romance? Try 'Francis Ford Coppola's Bram Stoker's Dracula', if you can stomach Keanu Reeves' "acting". Victorian Mental Institutes/Prisons? Try 'Fingersmith'/'Affinity' (Sarah Waters). Limitations of a Victorian Woman's Life? Try 'The French Lieutenant's Woman' (John Fowles), or an original text like 'The Woman in White' (Wilkie Collins). That's just off the top of my head. There are so many books I would recommend that you read before this; I couldn't possibly list them all. Summary : A careless and dull genre rip-off which is neither intelligent nor entertaining, and at times is almost embarrassingly bad.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Staci

    About: A new take on Bramstoker's Dracula but told from the POV of Mina. Descriptive Words: compelling, romantic, sexy, seductive.... Location or characters you met: * Mina: I liked Mina when I watched the movie "Bramstoker's Dracula" and honestly it was Winona Ryder's face that I envisioned as I read this story. She is a character that I could relate to. She's someone who wants to please others, doesn't want anyone to think ill of her, yet she has this dark side that she's reluctant to admit to o About: A new take on Bramstoker's Dracula but told from the POV of Mina. Descriptive Words: compelling, romantic, sexy, seductive.... Location or characters you met: * Mina: I liked Mina when I watched the movie "Bramstoker's Dracula" and honestly it was Winona Ryder's face that I envisioned as I read this story. She is a character that I could relate to. She's someone who wants to please others, doesn't want anyone to think ill of her, yet she has this dark side that she's reluctant to admit to or even to talk about with her closest friends. * The Dark Prince : Call me twisted, but I fell in love with Dracula a bit in this book. He has waited hundreds of years to be with Mina and yet, he doesn't force her to be with him. He wants everything to be her choice and is willing to accept her wishes, even though some of them will break his heart...again. * Jonathan: I thought he was a namby-pamby...(is that a word?) What a weak man! Some of the things that he allowed to happen to Mina made me want to slap him. And the fact that he had carnal knowledge of more than one woman just meant that they (the temptress) were sent from the devil. Now, if a woman wanted to liberate her sexuality...watch out because they locked them up in the asylum for being nymphomaniacs! * Dr. Von Helsinger and his gang of men- egomaniacs, control freaks, and men who were afraid of strong women. What worked for me: * Reading the story from Mina's point-of-view. This was brilliant and I couldn't help but feel sympathy for her and also I was cheering her on to be with Dracula. * The sex scenes. I will admit to re-reading them more than once! Holy smokes were they scorching! * I felt immense empathy for Dracula and never really thought of him as a monster. I guess that would probably mean I would let him suck my blood!!!! * Dark, gothic, and Victorian- what more could you ask for? * Never a dull moment...this was a page-turner and I couldn't put it down! What didn't work for me: * I honestly enjoyed everything about this book. I have nothing bad to say about my reading experience. Recommend? Yes! For those who don't care for explicit sex scenes then you may want me to black out those passages for you, but if you're a fan of Dracula and find yourself intrigued by a GROWN-UP version of vampire love....then look no further because this is a great read! My Rating: 4.5/5

  11. 5 out of 5

    Deanna

    My eyes were riveted to the pages throughout the entire read. Does that give you clue as to how much I liked this book? It ought to, but just in case it did not, I loved this story. I feel a tad guilty that I liked this book far better than Stoker’s Dracula, as if I am not literary enough for Stoker, but whatever, I cannot deny the trance that Dracula in Love put over me. I cannot deny that it did indeed captivate and keep me throughout the whole story. It sucked me into the story, and the lives My eyes were riveted to the pages throughout the entire read. Does that give you clue as to how much I liked this book? It ought to, but just in case it did not, I loved this story. I feel a tad guilty that I liked this book far better than Stoker’s Dracula, as if I am not literary enough for Stoker, but whatever, I cannot deny the trance that Dracula in Love put over me. I cannot deny that it did indeed captivate and keep me throughout the whole story. It sucked me into the story, and the lives of the characters in a way that Stoker’s Dracula did not. So be it. Yes, Dracula in Love is based off a Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Yes, that is true, and for me it worked. It worked really good. Even though this story worked for me, I do have a feeling for all you Dracula purists, this book will just not do. For me though, I do believe that the author did a fabulous job with staying true to the essence, and maintaining many aspects of Stoker’s Dracula while at that same time taking the freedom to change context from which the story derives, to change the relationships, and credibility. Right from the beginning, the prologue to be precise, the author puts the story into context. She confronts Stoker’s Dracula by having Mina address his version; account of details. Mina makes it clear, that his version is not accurate and because of that she has written her memoir. Stoker is woven into the story in subtle ways to show how he obtained his inaccurate version of events. The building of this context gave Dracula in Love credibility…believability. For Full Review: Polishing Mud Balls

  12. 5 out of 5

    Svetlana Kovalkova-McKenna

    Ok, once I got past a nasty near-rape scene that opens the book, but does not seem to serve any other purpose other than to shock and disgust the reader, I was determined to read the book and give it a chance, because the book description promised hours of great read. Well, I should have quit right there. I do not think Mina and Dracula as a “fairies” angle worked for this particular story. There is so much thrown into the plot that clashes together: women’s rights, history of psychiatry, medici Ok, once I got past a nasty near-rape scene that opens the book, but does not seem to serve any other purpose other than to shock and disgust the reader, I was determined to read the book and give it a chance, because the book description promised hours of great read. Well, I should have quit right there. I do not think Mina and Dracula as a “fairies” angle worked for this particular story. There is so much thrown into the plot that clashes together: women’s rights, history of psychiatry, medicine, Avalon, Sidhe, Arthurian angle and more. It does not work well together at all, and the sex scenes are kind of nasty. I just had to mention that, because I was so put off by them and failed to understand how it was suppose to serve the plot.The author pretty much took apart Bram Stoker’s novel “Dracula” and gave a drastically different explanation to everything that happened in it. The result is a badly militated “Dracula” that did not transform into a new stand alone novel for the author. Reads like poorly thrown together fan fiction. If anyone wants to read a fabulous retelling of “Dracula” that you won’t be able to put down or guess what will happen next, I would recommend “Historian” by E.Kostova. It is a book that uses the story of Dracula to spin an amazing new look into relationship between Mina and Dracula, instead of just twisting and borrowing non-stop from Stoker.

  13. 3 out of 5

    Sheila

    I shouldn't like this so well; Dracula is supposed to be a sexy alpha male but he struck me as a whining, sulking man-child. Still, I'm a sucker for gothic trappings, and the mixture of vampire and (view spoiler)[sidhe (hide spoiler)] lore was interesting. I thought the section set in the (view spoiler)[asylum (hide spoiler)] was chilling--probably because of its historical accuracy.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sarah

    Dracula in Love claims to be a retelling of the Mina-Dracula relationship from Bram Stoker's classic novel, Dracula. However, the story told by Essex is at best misleading and at worse implausible and annoying. Here's why: 1. The characters were inconsistent. Their personalities were all over the place, not a single one of them constant. Jonathan Harker was a good man, then a bad man, then a good man. Morris Quince was a rotten scoundrel who wasn't. The doctors from the lunatic asylum who treated Dracula in Love claims to be a retelling of the Mina-Dracula relationship from Bram Stoker's classic novel, Dracula. However, the story told by Essex is at best misleading and at worse implausible and annoying. Here's why: 1. The characters were inconsistent. Their personalities were all over the place, not a single one of them constant. Jonathan Harker was a good man, then a bad man, then a good man. Morris Quince was a rotten scoundrel who wasn't. The doctors from the lunatic asylum who treated women for sexual promiscuity were insane sexual deviates. The irony is lossed on no one, I'm sure. I'm still trying to figure out how this fits into the story as a whole, though. Let us not forget the supposed "heroine" of the story, Mina Murray Harker, who has this unenviable ability to change her mind in the most drastic and dramatic fashion. I found it impossible to like her. 2. The connection between the characters was difficult to fathom, on so many levels. Many of the events that took place in Dracula in Love simply do not make sense when considered in light of the story as a whole. At the time, I quite enjoyed Essex's descriptions of the asylum, but in retrospect I struggle with understanding its purpose. 3. Despite the title, the Dark Prince himself (that is, Dracula) is almost completely absent for most of the book. He turns up for the last quarter, but then his role in the story is annoyingly and frustratingly told predominantly through dialogue. I couldn't help but feel that the author was in a hurry to finish, either to meet a deadline or simply because she could no longer be bothered with the story. A pity. 4. The reincarnated Sidhe concept had potential: It was a neat idea, but poorly executed. I think Essex could have achieved more with this storyline had she not waffled on and got distracted by other things earlier on in the piece. This portion of the story felt rushed and confusing. I think it was supposed to be that awe-inspiring supernatural twist to the story, but the author's inability to think it through ensured it completely fell flat. 5. The author seems to be lacking focus as the book has far too much filler, making the plot and characters seem inconsistent and undeveloped, especially at the end. Half the time I wasn't even sure I knew what she was talking about! Not even the ending was redeeming: Like most of the story, it was simply confusing and implausible. 6. I had expected a supernatural love story set during one of my favourite periods in history (Victorian England), but what I got instead was nothing more than misleading erotica: Dracula in Love contained a whole lot of lust, but little Dracula and absolutely no love whatsoever. A disappointing read overall.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kristina

    This was an odd book. I read the author notes and the author wanted to explore the Dracula story from the woman's point of view because apparently Bram Stoker portrays women in a bad light in his novel. I have not read Bram Stoker's Dracula so I cannot comment on that. I will admit to skimming much of the book and only stopping to read what interested me. I found the endless details of Min's life as a school teacher boring and her friends boring and the whole interlude with Lucy and her secret l This was an odd book. I read the author notes and the author wanted to explore the Dracula story from the woman's point of view because apparently Bram Stoker portrays women in a bad light in his novel. I have not read Bram Stoker's Dracula so I cannot comment on that. I will admit to skimming much of the book and only stopping to read what interested me. I found the endless details of Min's life as a school teacher boring and her friends boring and the whole interlude with Lucy and her secret lover also not interesting. Because the book is titled Dracula in Love, I wanted to read about Dracula being in love, not all the other stuff. That was the compelling part of the book. I was intrigued by the notion that Min is being reborn and Dracula has been waiting quite a long time (centuries) for her to be immortal with him. The whole "Sidhe" aspect was weird, but the whole book is freaking odd so I went with it. The last third of the book was most entertaining to me, learning about Dracula and Min's long history together. The subplots (the women in the asylum, Kate's journalist career) were of no interest to me. Ironic considering the author added those details to balance out Bram Stoker's portrayal of women at that time. Ah well. I wouldn't read the book again or any other works by this author. I found her writing style fussy and annoying. This was a curiosity read for me--I'd heard about this book somewhere (probably NPR, they have a knack for reviewing odd books. I picked up Nicholson Baker's The Fermata because of an enthusiastic NPR review and found it not funny and annoying--and I have a very good sense of humor and a dirty mind!--but the book just wasn't to my taste)and wanted to give it a go. I must continue to express a big ole thank you to the inter-library loan system, otherwise I would have had to buy this book in order to read it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sandi

    There seem to be quite a few books about Count Dracula lately. Maybe the popularity of vampires is making people re-visit the original popular vampire. Dracula in Love is far, far better than Dracula the Un-Dead and less boring than The Historian. It's got plenty of mildly graphic sex and sexual fantasy for those who like that kind of thing, but isn't so over the top that it's gulp-inducing for those who don't. My biggest complaint is the way it twists Bram Stoker's story and puts a completely r There seem to be quite a few books about Count Dracula lately. Maybe the popularity of vampires is making people re-visit the original popular vampire. Dracula in Love is far, far better than Dracula the Un-Dead and less boring than The Historian. It's got plenty of mildly graphic sex and sexual fantasy for those who like that kind of thing, but isn't so over the top that it's gulp-inducing for those who don't. My biggest complaint is the way it twists Bram Stoker's story and puts a completely ridiculous interpretation on Dracula's origins and why he's obsessed with Mina. It starts out pretty good, but really stretched my suspension of disbelief towards the end. Fortunately, I won this book through FirstReads because it really would have been only worth the price of a mass-market paperback.

  17. 3 out of 5

    Lydia Presley

    Word of warning - do not read this book when you are out say.. babysitting and have to leave the house at 11PM. I jumped at every. little. noise. That said... Wow. This was quite the read. Michelle Moran, on the cover, dubs this the "Twilight for adults" and in a way, she's right. Only in this case, Mina.. as the new Bella, is not quite so chaste. Wow, I'm still trying to wrap my head around this book. Okay, so for those of you younger readers, this is really, really steamy in parts. Don't fall fo Word of warning - do not read this book when you are out say.. babysitting and have to leave the house at 11PM. I jumped at every. little. noise. That said... Wow. This was quite the read. Michelle Moran, on the cover, dubs this the "Twilight for adults" and in a way, she's right. Only in this case, Mina.. as the new Bella, is not quite so chaste. Wow, I'm still trying to wrap my head around this book. Okay, so for those of you younger readers, this is really, really steamy in parts. Don't fall for the Twilight hook - this is definitely not as tame as Twilight (those are words I never thought I might say). But for those of you adults who want a "real" vampire story, one that includes dark, mysterious characters and focuses around the Sidhe and the old stories of powerful female vampires - yeah this is the book for you. Dark, spooky, horrifying (blood transfusions and strait-jackets anyone?) and filled with a romance that will make you shiver and look over your shoulder.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Flora Smith

    This book tells the story of Dracula from Mina Harker's perspective. As the story unfolds you see the connection between Mina and the Count unfold from the time she was little til he revealed himself when she was older. We learn of their life together not only in this time setting but also in the past. How they have been connected over many lifetimes as soul mates. It was a love that didn't know the boundaries of time. We also see the cultural changes taking place with women during this time in This book tells the story of Dracula from Mina Harker's perspective. As the story unfolds you see the connection between Mina and the Count unfold from the time she was little til he revealed himself when she was older. We learn of their life together not only in this time setting but also in the past. How they have been connected over many lifetimes as soul mates. It was a love that didn't know the boundaries of time. We also see the cultural changes taking place with women during this time in history as women were fighting for their rights and others not wishing for change. And how women were treated that had normal sexual desires. Many were placed in asylums and treated cruely as men tried to subdue them. All in all this was a great read that I found hard to put down. I look forward to reading this one again.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Rusty

    Truly enjoyed this read. At first I was unsure as the book seemed to be a bit slow getting started but as the story unfolded I found myself eagerly turning the pages. This tale encourages me to return to Dracula by Bram Stoker which I put down after about 100 pages because I couldn't get into it and/or my imagination was getting the best of me. Or, perhaps I just wasn't in the mood for it. At any rate Karen Essex explains how she came to be interested in Mina enough to write this tale. She found Truly enjoyed this read. At first I was unsure as the book seemed to be a bit slow getting started but as the story unfolded I found myself eagerly turning the pages. This tale encourages me to return to Dracula by Bram Stoker which I put down after about 100 pages because I couldn't get into it and/or my imagination was getting the best of me. Or, perhaps I just wasn't in the mood for it. At any rate Karen Essex explains how she came to be interested in Mina enough to write this tale. She found the cultural changes that were occurring during that period intriguing and probed the thoughts and actions of women reaching out to secure equality in society as well as those inhibited by their traditionally accepted roles. Good, good read!

  20. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Huston

    Oh, what I can I say? I didn't like this one at all, despite the author trying very very hard to come up with a new angle on the Dracula story. If I had not read this on my nook, I would have made a deep hole in the living room wall with it. For the complete review, please go here: http://www.epinions.com/review/Karen_...

  21. 4 out of 5

    Rachel

    In the author's note to Dracula in Love, Karen Essex asks her readers to take the book "in the spirit of fun and adventure in which it was written". Which I do - it is a clever book, better written than I could have expected, and very thoughtful. I appreciate it - I appreciate what Essex is doing, the very intelligent way in which she is lovingly dialoguing with her source text. This is a legitimately good novel, despite the ill-suited Proust allusion of the title which makes it sound like a che In the author's note to Dracula in Love, Karen Essex asks her readers to take the book "in the spirit of fun and adventure in which it was written". Which I do - it is a clever book, better written than I could have expected, and very thoughtful. I appreciate it - I appreciate what Essex is doing, the very intelligent way in which she is lovingly dialoguing with her source text. This is a legitimately good novel, despite the ill-suited Proust allusion of the title which makes it sound like a cheap romance, and a much warranted critique of Stoker. But I have some problems with it, problems that I have with a great deal of the modern 'reclaiming' of 18th and 19th century Gothic texts. And I am going to voice them, with the assurance that I am, at the same time, taking the book in the spirit in which it was meant. Dracula in Love is a feminist retelling - or, rather, rewriting - of the story of Dracula, and a good one. It teases out the misogyny and condescension implicit in the original book to create a reclaimed, feminist gothic in which the threat to Mina and Lucy comes, not from some supernatural stranger in the dark night, but from the very husbands and doctors who name themselves their protectors. This is not an unknown trope - the genre-changing 1979 Frank Langella film of Dracula did a similar thing in a more rudimentary, less developed form. This book does it intelligently, using the real horrors of asylum treatments for hysterical women to turn Van Helsing (he of the canonically bizarre and here terrifying dictum "A brave man's blood is the best thing on this earth when a woman is in trouble") into a mad eugenicist, Seward into a lecherous tyrant, and Holmwood into a callous aristocrat desiring only wealth. All of that - brilliant inversion of the original story. I approve, though wonder if perhaps Essex's point might have been better served by removing the supernatural aspect of the story entirely and making the men's fears of vampirism entirely unjustified. Because here is where my problem with the novel starts. Essex tries, essentially, to have everything - a biting rewriting of a flawed source text and a lush Victorian gothic love story. Like probably dozens of directors and novelists and fan fiction authors before here, Essex turns the relationship between Dracula and Mina consensual, into a love story that can cross centuries. Essex makes the threat that Helsing and Seward attempt to protect their women from not that of sexual trauma but of sexual liberation. Essex's Mina calls Dracula to her with the unconscious power of her desire - her Lucy is confined and deemed a hysteric for her consensual affair with a rewritten Quincey Morris. There is nothing for Essex's characters to fear in the night and the mist, only exquisite and joyously welcomed pleasure-pain. And while I like reclaiming, I like centering a story on the agency of a woman's desire, there is something fundamentally problematic about turning a rape narrative into a love story. And I don't know why no one ever brings this up. Because I believe that, while the gothic novels of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, including Dracula, are about a lot of things (xenophobia, the upholding of sexual/social mores, class issues), at their core, many them are talking about trauma. And since they seem to have been one of the only avenues open to both men and women for the exploration of this issue, eliminating that aspect from them closes a lot of the paths we have for discovering what the men and women of these times actually feared. And I've said this before and will say it again, but one of the things that will always make me love Dracula, despite all it's problems, is how, in it, Mina is allowed to be traumatized and survive. This is radical. It doesn't look radical to us now (though how many rape victims in fiction and film and television still die?), but it is. A hundred years before, Clarissa was radical for allowing its heroine to be raped and maintain her selfhood. She died, it's true, but not before escaping Lovelace's control and making detailed instructions for how she should be buried, what should be written on her tomb, who should be allowed access to her body. And these instructions were obeyed. And this was radical. It was radical, even, that she didn't marry her abuser, and I know this may be shocking to you naive modern people, but this was the expectation. For not doing this, Clarissa showed incredible willpower, incredible sense of self. And then, years pass, and Mina Harker undergoes a symbolic rape. And she doesn't die. She views herself as defiled, yes, 'unclean', she weeps at the thought of tainting her husband with her touch. But rape victims do the same thing now, and the burning of the holy wafer on Mina's forehead is only a literalization of the psychological effects that often go with rape. No, Mina fights. She is weak, and frightened, cursed with a mental connection to her attacker, but she fights to destroy him. And the men around her stand behind her, even with their condescension and casual misogyny. They never say it's her fault, they never waver in their devotion. And, eventually, Mina and her supporters are able to destroy her attacker, even though he is a rich and powerful aristocrat who, in the world outside the gothic novel, probably would never even be jailed for what he had done. Justice is served, and Mina acts as a participating agent in that justice. Now, why aren't we telling that story? The fact that Essex doesn't tell it wouldn't bother me if it were not for the fact that, really, no one else is either. I got into an argument with a woman online once who insisted that Dracula, in the original novel, liberates Mina and Lucy. I talked about the lack of consent, how what he does is symbolic rape, and she just kept insisting that being vampires gave Mina and Lucy more power and self-governance than they had as Victorian women. And eventually I just got frustrated and came to this statement - You can't liberate someone by violating them. It just doesn't work. Essex doesn't have quite that problem - she emphasizes throughout the book Mina and Lucy's enthusiastic consent. But her Dracula still does a hell of a lot of commanding, and her often used trope of the body having one will and the mind another can too often, in other contexts, be a simple mask for rape apology. I also objected to her version of Dracula's vampire wives, who were far too close to the typical stereotype of the demonic, sexually insatiable woman to feel appropriate in the story she was trying to tell. Why not more sisterhood? Why this essentially patriarchal emphasis on jealousy and fidelity? Anyway. This book was better than I expected and I am glad I read it. That's the only reason I'm being so hard on it.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth ♛Smart Girls Love Trashy Books♛

    -POTENTIAL SPOILERS- Well, this was certainly unexpected. The book got a lot of bad and mediocre reviews, so naturally, I assumed I would love this book. I didn't. I don't hate the book, but it failed to really leave much of an impact on me. There were PARTS of the book I liked. If just those parts were combined together, then there would probably be a really good story. I liked the parts where it actually followed the events of the book, except from Mina's perspective. I liked how it was writte -POTENTIAL SPOILERS- Well, this was certainly unexpected. The book got a lot of bad and mediocre reviews, so naturally, I assumed I would love this book. I didn't. I don't hate the book, but it failed to really leave much of an impact on me. There were PARTS of the book I liked. If just those parts were combined together, then there would probably be a really good story. I liked the parts where it actually followed the events of the book, except from Mina's perspective. I liked how it was written in the style of the original book too-in the form of a diary and several letters. I liked the overall gothic atmosphere of it. However, a lot of it either felt rushed or way too slow-paced. There were many things that I wanted to have explored more, like Mina's time in the asylum, or her life with Jonathan after all these events were over. But all of that was fairly rushed over. I wasn't too bothered with Mina becoming some sort of weird fairy/vampire hybrid, but I thought Dracula himself was a bit weird. The book never flat-out said whether he was a vampire or not, and I think he was intended to be handsome, but he reminded me too much of Alucard from Hellsing appearance-wise, and I don't think he's very handsome. The whole 'reincarnated lovers' plotline also reminded me of Bram Stoker's Dracula, the one from the 90's, which also reminded me that I need to watch that movie again... Overall, it wasn't a bad novel, but I also don't think the author fully realized what she intended to write either. I'm honestly not even sure if I would recommend this one or not. I suppose if any part of it sounds intriguing, then check it out, but don't come into it expecting a fully-formed novel.

  23. 3 out of 5

    ALPHAreader

    Historical novelist extraordinaire, Karen Essex, takes Stoker’s story and infuses new life into the old work. The story opens with a promise from Mina Harker to the reader. The year is 1897, and in the wake of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ story being released, Mina wants to set the record straight and tell her side of events, lest Stoker’s fanciful imagination carry the truth away with time and embellishment. . . The year is 1890, and Mina Murray (soon to be Harker) awaits the return of her fiancée fro Historical novelist extraordinaire, Karen Essex, takes Stoker’s story and infuses new life into the old work. The story opens with a promise from Mina Harker to the reader. The year is 1897, and in the wake of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’ story being released, Mina wants to set the record straight and tell her side of events, lest Stoker’s fanciful imagination carry the truth away with time and embellishment. . . The year is 1890, and Mina Murray (soon to be Harker) awaits the return of her fiancée from his work with an Austrian Count in Styria. Alone and pining for Jonathan, Mina starts to have wild and wonderful dreams – dreams of a strange man who she has never forgotten, but cannot remember. He is a man from her childhood, one who watched over her and kept her safe. Now he has returned to make appearances in her most carnal dreams. . . even when she ventures to Whitby and calls upon her dear friend, Lucy Westenra, the handsome stranger follows Mina’s dreams and waking fantasies. We all know the story of Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula’, whether from watching the various adaptations or reading the cliff-notes. The Irishman’s story is even more widely known today when the paranormal romance genre has gripped the hearts and imaginations of reader’s everywhere, and people venture back to the beginning of the vampire legend. Karen Essex has imbued Stoker’s original story with fascinating folklore and heightened sensuality. Our protagonist is Mina Murray – an Irish orphan working as a teacher at a Ladies college when her life tumbles out of her control. With her fiancée’s absence comes hidden memories from Mina’s childhood, a sensuous stranger she can’t stop yearning for and secrets within herself she can no longer deny. I will warn that a good portion of the book is in suspense as we await Mina coming face-to-face with the Count. She is visited by him in her dreams and remembers him from her past. . . but the first 100 pages or so details Mina awaiting Jonathan Harker’s return and her repressed London life. Essex imbues the first half of the novel with delicious suspense that reads like foreplay for Mina and Dracula’s anticipated meeting. . . And when Mina does finally meet her monster, it is spectacular. The real focus of this retelling is Mina herself, and Essex writing new and fascinating dimensions to the unwitting heroine of Stoker’s tale. And so, a big focus of ‘Dracula in Love’ is Essex explaining and deepening the connection between the Count and Mina – the monster and his muse. Essex does this by weaving a tale of reincarnated love across time and space, as Dracula lives his seven hundred years searching for his true love as she is continually reborn. “I am dying,” I said, the words staggering out of my mouth. “No, you are dying into me. And if you die into me again and again, I promise you will live forever. Do you want to live forever?” “I do, my love, I do. I want to be with you forever.” “You will not turn me away again? You will not sentence me to enduring your cycles of birth and death while I wait for you to remember who and what you are?” “No, my love, I am yours.” Essex is writing ‘Dracula in Love’ in the wake of renewed fascination with vampirism and Gothicism. So Mina and the Count’s love story is aptly sensual and daring – spread across different folklores and era’s to become something truly beautiful and heartrending. As fascinating and sexy as Mina and Dracula’s love affair is, equally enlightening is Essex’s reimagining of other aspects of Stoker’s tale. She writes a number of checks and balances for the ‘Dracula’ story – at once shedding a more factual light on certain parts (like the real reason for Lucy Westenra’s wasting away) while also writing deeply disturbing explanations for characters like Dr. Von Helsinger, a psychiatrist with an unhealthy obsession with vampirism and medical treatments involving blood. This is the real Gothicism in Essex’s tale – the true darkness of Stoker’s original lies more in the world of mortal men than with the monster. Astounding. I do wish that Essex had more fun with the ending, and given herself more freedom from Bram Stoker. Essex had done such a wonderful job of infusing the old ‘Dracula’ story with new dimensions and fanciful layers. Throughout the book she enlightens the character of Mina Murray and adds a sensual depth to her relationship with the fabled monster, Dracula. But then the ending, in complete contradiction to Essex’s previous character building, sticks to the Bram Stoker original. After heightening and romanticizing the love between Mina and the Count, and sullying Jonathan Harker’s reputation, the ending just didn’t ring true to all the reimagining that had come before it. Even more so when you think that Karen Essex is writing her novel in the aftermath of ‘Twilight’, ‘True Blood’ and Edward Cullen. We are not a Victorian audience to anticipate a happy ending of good triumphing over the caricature monster evil. . . Indeed, I could not fathom Mina not choosing the monster over the mortal man. She and the Count had such a heartbreakingly epic romance, they reached such heights of sensuality and love that when Mina did choose Jonathan over him – I wasn’t buying it. This was the one aspect of Bram Stoker’s original story that I hoped Karen Essex would get carried away with. After she illuminated Dracula and Mina’s love affair, and ridiculed Jonathan Harker throughout the book – there was just no conceivable way that, as a reader, I could bite my tongue and accept that Mina would choose the ordinary over the extraordinary. I sat up, and he sat with me, arms around me. We said nothing for a long while but simply held each other. I stared into the flames as they resurrected images and memories from my first days with him in this very room so many lifetimes ago. There is no explanation for love; no spoken words compare with its silent exhilaration. If that was true of the ordinary love between two mortals – if love is ever ordinary – then it was true of a love that has contorted itself into different bodies in different eras over the centuries. I cannot deny that I read ‘Dracula in Love’ well into the night, consuming Essex’s fancifully sexual tale with absolute joy and fervour. I didn’t love the ending, and I do wish that Karen Essex had taken more of her own imagination into the finale, the same way she had with so many other aspects of Stoker’s tale. Regardless, ‘Dracula in Love’ is a full of spicy Gothicism and eerie sensuality, a darkened and awakened tale of reincarnated love for the most famous fanged fairytale.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lindsay

    I admire the attempt to make Dracula a more sex-positive story, if that's what this can be called. There is a fair amount of sex, and it focuses almost entirely on the female pleasure and sexuality that was so demonized by the original. That's cool in my book. It seems like female pleasure is still something that society at large is uncomfortable with discussing. (Although I was confused about how Ursulina and her crew fit into this so-called sex positive retelling, because they seem to be just I admire the attempt to make Dracula a more sex-positive story, if that's what this can be called. There is a fair amount of sex, and it focuses almost entirely on the female pleasure and sexuality that was so demonized by the original. That's cool in my book. It seems like female pleasure is still something that society at large is uncomfortable with discussing. (Although I was confused about how Ursulina and her crew fit into this so-called sex positive retelling, because they seem to be just as demonized as ever for being sexually aggressive.) It also has some pretty interesting subject matter when it comes to the treatment of female "hysteria" in asylums. Mina's time in the asylum accounts for the more chilling sections of the novel. If any part of the novel can be called Gothic, these chapters qualify, with the hopelessness of the female patients condemned to die there coming off as horrifying psychological and physical torture, but without resorting to excessive cruelty or gore. All of these are compelling components of the novel, but I still found myself forcing my way through it at times. There's a lot of description, sometimes to a fault. Ultimately I suppose this comes down to personal preference, but I found myself tiring of hearing all the minute details of things I just didn't care about, like the nature surrounding, or the many things hanging on the walls of the Count's castle. I felt like I was always reading about some superfluous detail or another. I usually like detail-oriented reads, but for whatever reason I felt this was a little excessive, or else it kept focusing on things I didn't have much interest in. Mina, too, bored me as a protagonist. Her hidden passion and her mystical past are interesting in theory, but for some reason I never did get the sense that she was a particularly passionate person--just horny. And hey, that's fine with me, but I wish that her personality or her thirst for life (beyond her... well, thirst for Dracula) had been a little more pronounced along with that. Similarly, her relationship to Dracula in the last third of the book ground the story to a halt, for me. While he's being a creepy death stalker, well, that was intriguing enough, but once they're together with any regularity, it quickly becomes a pattern of "Dracula tells a long, exposition-y backstory, stops so that Mina will not be overwhelmed, she sleeps, "why won't you tell me this or that?", "in time you will remember", occasionally they turn each other on, rinse repeat." Mina has her own power, but it's latent for most of the book, and Dracula often ends up talking to her like she's a child because of it. A child he likes to make out with. Hot? In addition, the love dialogue really struck me as insincere and devoid of any particular personality. It's a lot of "yes, forever my love" and "I would be happy dying if just for this one night with you" and a lot of stock phrases like that. I didn't get much of a sense of who they were individually, what their interests and pet peeves were outside of one another, what on Earth they might talk about beyond the exposition necessary for the plot to move forward. In the flashback, they meet and are immediately enamoured with each other. It's effective enough as an enchanted, lust-at-first-sight sort of thing, but it's not played that way. The book wants us to get on board with auto-soulmates, but there's never really any scene that pinpoints why they ARE soulmates beyond that they're attracted to one another. I ended up feeling like it was... not a flat relationship, per se, since I do think it has some interesting elements with the reincarnation backstory. There's also a good sense of HISTORY between them, and Dracula's frustration with Mina, while sometimes frustrating itself for this reader, does ring true enough. Ultimately I never really understood their passion, or why these two people in particular were so eager to spend eternity with each other. This might be, again, a personal preference of mine--I'm not really interested in romantic dynamics where the man is the guide, the protector, the constant hovering presence ready to bend to his lover's every beck and call, uncaring of anything beyond his love's wishes. I like a guy to have a life of his own, some motivation beyond his lover. Same as I would with a female lead. It's a dynamic that just inherently bores me to death, and it's tough for me to find something sexy if I'm not invested in the characters. Oddly: Jonathan's scene on the bed with Ursulina during the fantasy ball and the other brides was more intriguing to me. I would read the hell out of a book about Ursulina! Hopefully without the vilification elements. However, I will add one positive to the Mina/Dracula relationship: the dilemma they find themselves in at the end of the book is sincerely tense and painful, and I genuinely wondered what they would do. This is where the sense of history between them really shone through brightest, and I did feel the weight of it in Dracula's reaction to a certain revelation. So... ultimately I thought this book had some interesting elements, but it very much Wasn't My Thing when it came to the romance. Which, unfortunately, is the main selling point of the book. I laboured between two stars and three, but since I think my own personal preferences came into play regarding my enjoyment of it, I settled on three just in case.

  25. 3 out of 5

    Laura

    "Blood is the true love potion. Remember?" He twisted my long black hair around his hand, sweeping it from the curve of my neck, where he buried his face. His lips worked their way up to my ear. "There is no going back, Mina, not this time. I am answering your call. And you have answered mine." "No," I said. "No going back." I knew what he was going to do because he had done it before. My body remembered the sensation of it, and my every nerve heightened with expectation. I knew the danger and the "Blood is the true love potion. Remember?" He twisted my long black hair around his hand, sweeping it from the curve of my neck, where he buried his face. His lips worked their way up to my ear. "There is no going back, Mina, not this time. I am answering your call. And you have answered mine." "No," I said. "No going back." I knew what he was going to do because he had done it before. My body remembered the sensation of it, and my every nerve heightened with expectation. I knew the danger and the pleasure, but there was no turning back now. You know the story of Dracula. The vicious blood-thirsty Count that lured good decent people to near ruin with his deceitfulness and mysterious abilities. He's painted as a villain, a great source of evil, something to fear. You might remember, Mina, the wife of the unfortunate Jonathan Harker, who became twisted up in Dracula's malevolent games, along with her hapless husband. Dracula, as revenge for Jonathan and Van Helsing and Co.'s plot against him, fed from Mina and in turn gave her his blood, intending to turn her into a vampire. How terribly boring, and unromantic. If blood could form such a bond between two beings that they remain fixedly connected across time and space, surely there must be more to the story. We've seen poor Mina as pure and perfect, as a victim, but have you ever stopped to imagine the tale and wonder she would have to impart, having experienced such a bond with someone? Wouldn't you wonder if she had really wanted it to be broken? Dracula in Love is Mina's story. Mina has begun sleep walking again. The mysterious, beguiling voice that haunted her youth has once again entered her dreams, and it calls to her, compelling her to answer it, to search for it. It awakens something in her, something ancient, and vivid and sensual, something that defies the sedate teachings and morality of her chaste life as a school mistress. She has pledged her love to Jonathan, who is essentially good, and genuinely loves her. He will be a dutiful husband, and she a proper wife and together, they will enjoy an uncomplicated life that will make them adequately happy. But at night it is not visions of her fiance that invade her sleep, it is a much older, timeless, deeper vision that beckons her and not only is she powerless to deny it, she doesn't want to. It has called to her for hundreds of years and once a life time, she answers. What I really want to do is just gush and slobber all over the place in response to this book. It's really difficult to come up with anything intelligent to say about it because I'm still dribbling over it like an idiot. I LOVED THIS BOOK. It is sinful, and decadent and violently romantic- there were whole passages that I just want to dip in chocolate and eat. I imagine its calorie count to be very high. It's one of those absurdly romantic novels that are the bane of all men and as a woman I had to resist the urge to glare at my beloved and demand to know how come he can't be more like Dracula. We don't want just love, we want eternal love, lust and devotion and it helps if you're ridiculously rich and good looking. Like Dracula. I'm also suddenly a bit crazy fan girl over Essex's writing, which makes this book almost more artistic than it does literary. Every page is a picture and yet there are no illustrations. The author used all the classic elements in Stoker's original with a few minor- ok, many, many luxurious upgrades. Where Stoker was trying to shock and depict the horror and terror that Dracula incited, Essex approached horror from a different angle and grappled instead with the horror of losing one's heart. The intensity of the story is still there, just with a much needed woman's touch, making it almost unbearably romantic and as an added bonus, tastefully erotic.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Audra (Unabridged Chick)

    One-sentence summary: Mina Murray tells all, news at eleven. Review: I'm not a vampire girl when it comes to supernatural affections. But I love classic vampire stories so I was willing to give this book a try since it was a spin-off of the original. And having been introduced the possibility of a Mina Murray with some real oomph (thanks to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen -- the graphic novels, not the film) I've been eagerly awaiting her incarnation in popular literature. Karen Essex's Mina co One-sentence summary: Mina Murray tells all, news at eleven. Review: I'm not a vampire girl when it comes to supernatural affections. But I love classic vampire stories so I was willing to give this book a try since it was a spin-off of the original. And having been introduced the possibility of a Mina Murray with some real oomph (thanks to League of Extraordinary Gentlemen -- the graphic novels, not the film) I've been eagerly awaiting her incarnation in popular literature. Karen Essex's Mina comes close to satisfying. The conceit is brilliant: Bram Stoker got it wrong. And with that start, the story develops as a very twisted parallel to the one originally offered, deviating here and there, revealing far more malicious and duplicitous characters than the ones Stoker presented. Purists might protest, but that's the best part: it was a man telling the story in a man's world, and Mina's experience in that world was vastly different. Essex's research really comes out in the novel, especially regarding Seward and his work at the madhouse. The passages featuring 'treatments' at the madhouse are chilling, perhaps the most horrifying stuff in the novel and I found myself really questioning whether the Count was the villain -- or the medical community. Sadly, my constant swoons over this book lessened as the story went on. Even though I'm not naturally inclined toward vampires -- especially as romantic leads -- I was willing to run with it (especially since every mortal man had so far been monstrous). But midpoint in the novel Mina developed the kind of sudden onset passivity seen in some action film heroines, when they transform from strong, tough characters to helpless creatures in need of a hero to make things better. Even though Mina ultimately came into her own by the end of the novel, the second half of the book left me very cold. I found the romance between Mina and the Count to be very contrived, despite Essex's attempts to give it some romantic gravitas (which, frankly, were a little too Marion Zimmer Bradley-esque for my tastes), and I especially hated Mina's easy acceptance of the histrionic men -- immortal and moral -- in her life. After the treatment she experienced with Jonathan Harker, it was insulting that she took it from the Count. Girlfriend should have schooled the man, not let him skulk around. Ultimately, I liked this book -- it was such a refreshingly researched take on Stoker's Dracula. As Essex explains in her Author's Notes, the era of Stoker's Dracula was one filled with abject fear about women. Illuminating that in this book is what made it so captivating and charming despite it's flat romance.

  27. 3 out of 5

    Heather Campbell

    The reception for this novel seems to fall into one of two camps. Unfortunately, I am one of those readers that was expecting a little something more. I haven't had such an urge to slap a character around since Jane Eyre. I felt Mina and Jane were very similar characters in the sense they both were always changing their minds (literally in the same paragraph, and sometimes before even finishing a complete thought) and they both decided that their lives would be better spent with men who had brok The reception for this novel seems to fall into one of two camps. Unfortunately, I am one of those readers that was expecting a little something more. I haven't had such an urge to slap a character around since Jane Eyre. I felt Mina and Jane were very similar characters in the sense they both were always changing their minds (literally in the same paragraph, and sometimes before even finishing a complete thought) and they both decided that their lives would be better spent with men who had broken their trust. This story is trying to be either a great horror story or a feminist resell of Dracula Don't get me wrong, I am not some naive woman to think Victorian society allowed the same freedoms and choices of today, but seriously the need for a husband is so strong that you sacrifice your own morals and ethics. Though Mina's second choice of broody and anticlimactic Dracula isn't boding well for here either. I think they love each other about as much as two stray cats in heat. He says he loves. They have sex or something similar. She says she remembers loving him...oh wait, maybe not. More lust...oh and instead of any evidence we get more lust and sex. Except it isn't very well written smut in my opinion. And I have to say, what horror? The scariest thing in this book is Mina's miraculous ability to willingly be a non-person. If anything the story has its sad moments, the treatment of women in asylums though historically I will point out men also get horribly experimented on. Asylums of any kind were dirty filthy crowded laboratories for any psychologists with a dream and coke. So in summation its not a horror story. I know I'm supposed to find this to be my feminist story of Dracula, and give a cheer that someone questioned that old crap tale of the dangers of women's sexuality, but what is really different here? Mina's " true love" is killed and at the end when she is transformed into some femme fatale, she hopes off with the cheating indifferent husband and has two and a half kids and a white picket fence. Oh and her other friend Kate losing everything by becoming a mother, but it's okay they srtill hang out all the time. I also love the quote " for myself, I am still releived to not have the responsibility of voting..." What?! Oh-Kay. So she had an amazing adventure, transformed into a vampire, still aren't aging, own your own castle, and the real joy here is being arm candy for a cheating British businessman. That's a message to take home, Little Sally. You too one day can end with a rich man you can tolerate and babies....lots of them... and live next door to your bestest friends... Yeah, think I'll pass on that one this time.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Alayne Bushey

    The advertisement for Dracula in Love by Karen Essex said: “If you read only one more vampire novel, let it be this one.” That’s a pretty bold statement so I took the bait. Dracula as told by Mina? Sounds pretty tasty, right? I bit (pun intended) on the posting for an advance copy. In hindsight, I should have probably just followed my gut telling me there’s too much vampire-fiction out there for all of it to be worthy of the hype. While reading, I found myself comparing Essex’s retelling of Dracu The advertisement for Dracula in Love by Karen Essex said: “If you read only one more vampire novel, let it be this one.” That’s a pretty bold statement so I took the bait. Dracula as told by Mina? Sounds pretty tasty, right? I bit (pun intended) on the posting for an advance copy. In hindsight, I should have probably just followed my gut telling me there’s too much vampire-fiction out there for all of it to be worthy of the hype. While reading, I found myself comparing Essex’s retelling of Dracula with the original (how could I not?). It’s been several years since I read Stoker’s Dracula so I don’t remember all the details, but everyone knows the basic plot. Nearing the end of Dracula in Love I pondered the basic question any reader should think of when perusing a spin-off: Is the spin worthy of the original? I asked myself if Essex’s retelling was really anything new or original or markedly better. In the end I decided that Bram Stoker’s novel is a classic tragedy, making Karen Essex’s version a copy of a tragedy which came out underwhelming and fairly lifeless (which, although necessary for a vampire, is not so good for a novel). Her love scenes were hot and heavy, but her frequent use of the word “preternatural” annoyed me to no end. Knowing what happens in Dracula meant I knew what would happen in Dracula in Love, and although the story should to be in the telling, Essex didn’t inspire me with her version like good historical-fiction should. For those of you in search for the next vampire novel, sure, maybe you’ll enjoy Dracula in Love because it’s got vampires and they’re attractive and it’s got women taking control and all that good stuff. But for me, if a writer is going to tackle something as venerable as DRACULA, they had better do it well. In this case, the aim fell far from the mark and the resulting product was another paperback to add to the growing pile of fang-related books on the market these days. Sigh.

  29. 3 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Mina Murray is here to set the record straight. The red-headed Irish writer got it all wrong. Dracula was not trying to control her in order to thwart Jonathon Harker...no wait, that happens in this book, too. Women with normal sexual appetites (that is, a physical attraction to men) were treated as crazy and dangerous. . .well, there is that entire section where Mina is committed against her will in the insane asylum. The male characters in Stoker's novel thought themselves morally and intellec Mina Murray is here to set the record straight. The red-headed Irish writer got it all wrong. Dracula was not trying to control her in order to thwart Jonathon Harker...no wait, that happens in this book, too. Women with normal sexual appetites (that is, a physical attraction to men) were treated as crazy and dangerous. . .well, there is that entire section where Mina is committed against her will in the insane asylum. The male characters in Stoker's novel thought themselves morally and intellectually superior to all women...ah, I am beginning to see a pattern. So, how is this book different from the original? Oh, it has a lots more sex. That's right. The sex makes it way different. For a book that claims to be the only vampire book that you need, it is a little vampire lite. It takes almost two hundred pages for Dracula to become part of the story instead of a cat-and-mouse teaser. The character of Mina is weakly drawn and becomes more and more annoying as the story unfolds. Consider the following: "There is no going back, Mina, not this time. I am answering your call. And you have answered mine. "No," I said. "No going back." Practically two pages later, she goes back. With a romance that spans several centuries, you would think that it would take her longer than fifteen seconds to kick him to the curb. Needless to say, this work left me frustrated.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Aanchal (Book Flame)

    Karen Essex did an incredible job retelling Bram Stokers Dracula. Dracula In Love was told from Mina's perspective, and I loved it just as much as the original. Review from www.bookflame.blogspot.com The first half of the novel was a lot of background information on Mina, which I found interesting. The novel really picked up for me when we got to the asylum. I was reading Dracula In Love in the middle of the night so yes, I was slightly creeped out but couldn't stop myself from turning the page. E Karen Essex did an incredible job retelling Bram Stokers Dracula. Dracula In Love was told from Mina's perspective, and I loved it just as much as the original. Review from www.bookflame.blogspot.com The first half of the novel was a lot of background information on Mina, which I found interesting. The novel really picked up for me when we got to the asylum. I was reading Dracula In Love in the middle of the night so yes, I was slightly creeped out but couldn't stop myself from turning the page. Essex did a great job with keeping the suspense. I also loved how on point Essex was with the treatment of women during that time period. Essex brought on new twists and turns that held my interest all the way to the very end. I was honestly rooting for the count in this one, which is why I was a little saddened by the ending. I felt as if Jonathan Harker did not deserve Mina. I seriously thought Mina would have picked the Count especially after learning about their past and how strong their love for each other was. There is also quite a few passionate sexual scenes, which fit perfectly with the atmosphere that was created in the novel. Dark,Sexy, and Captivating describes Dracula In Love down to a T. If you are looking for an overall great read you will not regret picking this novel up.

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