Thursday, July 28, 2011

Review: Dracula in Love

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

Publication Date: July 2011
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Genre: Historical Fiction/Horror/Romance
Pages: Paperback, 384pp
ISBN-13: 9780767931229
ISBN: 076793122X

(Received for an honest review from Historical Fiction Virtual Tours)

Karen Essex on the WEB: website, blog, facebook, twitter

Blog Tour Schedule from Historical Fiction Virtual Tours

Excerpt from Dracula in Love
Book Trailer:


London, 1890. Mina Murray Harker, the rosy-cheeked, quintessentially pure Victorian heroine, becomes Count Dracula's object of desire. To preserve her chastity, five male "defenders" rush in to rescue her from the vampire's evil clutches. This is the story we have been told.

But now, from Mina's own pen, we discover a tale more sensual, more devious, and more enthralling than the Victorians could have ever imagined. From the shadowy banks of the river Thames to the wild and windswept Yorkshire coast, Mina vividly recounts the intimate details of what really transpired between her and the Count - the joys and terrors of a passionate affair, as well as her rebellion against her own frightening preternatural powers.


Dracula in Love asks readers to see Dracula in a very different light, than that portrayed by Bram Stoker. Author Karen Essex delves into 19th century Victorian England and transforms a minor character from Stokers book into a heroine. Readers will find themselves not only intrigued by Mina Harker, but also enchanted by the sensual relationship she describes with the Count. Essex takes on everything from the vampire myth to the role of women in Victorian society in this book and leaves readers with a picture of Dracula that isn't what they expected. Rich with period detail and dazzling research Dracula in Love is everything readers look for in a paranormal historical novel!

Mina Murray Harker is outraged when she finds out that her relationship with Count Dracula has been inaccurately recorded and decides to tell the story from her own memories and recollections. Dreams and nightmares have kept her confused and unsure of herself for a long time and Mina becomes determined to find out more about the creature she is so drawn to in her dreams. Who is he? And why can't she seem to get him out of her mind? When it becomes apparent that Count Dracula has set his sights on the blissfully innocent Mina, five men come to her defense and try to protect her from his insidious presence. But Mina sees this as only an interference in her life and unnecessary. Even her husband seems to be against her and what she somehow feels she needs to do. As their love affair begins to heat up Mina is shocked not only by her behavior but also by the abilities she begins to embrace. How can true love be wrong? Even if it is with a creature considered so evil, yet so powerful...

I have been a fan of Dracula and vampires since childhood. From Bram Stoker's version up through the current fads and changes made to the vampire myth. I love to see how new trends shape and change the ideas that people have about paranormal characters. Vampires and blood sucking go back a long, long way and the stories have evolved into something less sinister and more appealing than ever before. Karen Essex has taken that one step further with her book, Dracula in Love. Readers who are expecting a fierce and dark Count who will stop at nothing to get what he wants will be somewhat surprised with this book for a lot of reasons.

First off, Dracula is not really the main character though he is essential to the plot. The story really revolves around Mina and how she experienced the relationship between them. In Stoker's version, Mina is a minor character who Dracula basically seduces out of revenge. In Essex's version Mina has a mind of her own, knows exactly what she is doing and resents being treated like a bird in a gilded cage. She feels this unexplained connection to Dracula that can't be denied. And she doesn't want to deny it, she wants to explore it. It brings out a side in her that is far from the sweet and innocent girl she shows to the Victorian world. She is intrigued by how Dracula makes her feel and the power and the passion he commands so easily. Readers will not see him as a dark brooding man, who cannot control his blood lust, but as a man who knows love and desire. Essex gives readers a Dracula that more relatable and essentially more interesting, not an easy feat given the changes in today's ideas of the perfect vampire character.

One of the things that I found most interesting in this novel was the way Essex was able to show the role of women during the Victorian time period. Her meticulous research is evident in every part of this book, but never so clearly as when she was describing how importance purity and piety were to the Victorian woman. Everything rested on her being seen as virtuous and upstanding and Mina was willing to throw all that out the window. She wanted to explore her sexuality and her inner longings which was totally unacceptable during that time. Essex is able to convey to the reader how dangerous this was. Her descriptions of the asylums and places where women were put out of the public eye was absolutely chilling. I've always considered Dracula a Gothic novel or a tale of horror and that isn't missing from Essex's book. It is still harrowing and full of spin tingling moments.

If you have an interest in all things vampire or in Dracula in particular this is not a book you want to miss. Essex essentially changes the way people see Dracula and makes his story more historically based and more sensual than scary. I wanted a different ending even though I knew how it would turn out. Knowing the original story in no way took away from the overall effect of this book. I definitely think it will redefine how readers see the vampire myth and all of it's variations. I recommend this to my historical fiction fans, romance fans and paranormal enthusiasts. I don't see it as a "re-telling" of the original story, so much as a "re-imagining" of a great story. A great book by a very gifted author!

Dracula in Love is NOW available in paperback from your favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

KAREN ESSEX is the author of four novels, including the international bestseller Leonardo's Swans. Her award-winning essays and articles have appeared in many periodicals, among them L.A. Weekly, Vogue, and Playboy. She lives in Los Angeles.


Passages to the Past said...

I am so glad that you enjoyed Dracula In Love! Great review, Debbie!

justpeachy36 said...

It was pleasure to read, interesting and from a totally different perspective than most books depicting Dracula!

Karen Essex said...

Thank you so much for this thoughtful and lengthy review of my book. It's what I hoped a reader would experience and take away when I was writing it! Very gratifying. You made my day.

I'd love you and your readers to check out my new blog and participate in our discussions on Women, History, Sex, & Power at:

Thanks, Deb!