Mina Murray thinks she’s a lucky woman. She has a fiance who some may have considered out of her reach, a pair of best friends, and enjoys her time teaching before she’s married. But she has dreams about a man she can’t identify, dreams that go beyond what a proper lady should be capable of imagining, and her friend Lucy appears to be in serious trouble with the men who wish to court her. Worst of all, Mina’s fiance goes on a trip to Romania and doesn’t write her, finally emerging seriously ill on the border, making Mina question the future she’s planned for herself and long for the man of her dreams to appear in the flesh.
I’m not sure if this is another case of me being far too fond of the original, but I just didn’t seem to love this one as much as everyone else did. It was definitely engaging and drew me in, but it kept reminding me of the original Dracula and making me long to read that one instead of continuing to read this story that turned it all upside down. I appear to have a soft spot for certain favorite books and I don’t always like other authors popping in and changing things. I have enjoyed Essex’s other books, but this one just didn’t have the same effect on me.
Setting my partiality aside, I did like how Essex turned the sexual stereotypes in Dracula on their head. Instead of women sitting in the background, having brains like men and not brains in their own right, Mina takes the forefront here, and has perfectly normal feelings and desires that all women share. Instead of being ashamed of her sexuality, Mina learns to appreciate it and to acknowledge her feelings. The scenes in the asylum are just heartbreaking; perfectly ordinary women are consigned to terrible lives simply because men decided they were too lustful, something that sadly did happen at the time.
I’ve seen a few complaints floating around about the novel’s sexuality; this isn’t really something I had a problem with. The thing about vampires is that they have always been sexual – seriously, think about it – we’re just a little more comfortable about admitting it these days. Saying that, I would definitely not recommend this book if you don’t want any of that in your books, because it is fairly frequent and a major part of the story.
Unfortunately, all the book really inspired me to do was start reading Dracula again. Dracula in Love may work better for you if you’re not so attached to the original (seriously, a friend and I nicknamed ourselves Mina and Lucy in high school), but I would still recommend Stealing Athena and Leonardo’s Swans first.
I am an Amazon Associate. I received this book for free from the publisher for review.