I am back! Well, I have been home for a week, but the pain has kept me from the computer. I tried last week to catch up with those of you who I follow, but the pain stopped me from commenting and fully participating in the blogging world. I am hopeful by the end of this week I will back to my normal self.
I did manage to finish a few books while recuperating. I have a small pile of books waiting to be reviewed, this being my favorite. Dracula in Love by Karen Essex was one of those surprise gems we reviewers find once in a great while. Books like this are why I take the time to review books, really it why I keep reading. So here it is dear Reader, my first review since my surgery.
Before I begin I must make it clear that I received this book from the author in exchange for a fair and honest review. I found this title on Shelf Awareness and want to thank Karen Essex for sending it to me.
On the back of the book one review reads “if you read only one more vampire novel, let it be this one”. I say if you read only one more literary novel, let it be this one. Dracula in love is a masterpiece .Not only does it turn the classic tale on its head, at times it reads much better than the original. This is more than a love story, more than a vampire tale; it is a realistic look into the attitudes and social norms of Victorian England and the treatment of women in love.
In this retelling Lucy is not a victim of a monster, rather she is a victim of a passionate love affair. When she is caught with “bruising” on her neck (what we would call hickies) the men assume she has been assaulted by a mad man. It never occurs to them she has been out with her lover. Scared to reveal the truth Lucy makes up a story about being attacked by a fiend, only her mother suspects the truth and is shamed by her daughter’s behavior. The poor girl ends up in an asylum along with other women who are thought to suffer from a type of hysteria. Though my copy is an ARC I am compelled to share this quote by the doctor who is overseeing the treatment of women like Lucy. Here he explains to Mina what is wrong with an older woman she has just met:
“Vivienne is what is known as an erotopath, a sexually preoccupied woman who becomes obsessed with one man, in this case, the lover who she recast in her imagination as the fairy prince”…The erotopath generally becomes an annoying menace to the man, and he rejects her. The rejection drives the woman to nymphomania, which is a disorder in women who have abnormal sexual desires”.
Yes, this was the attitude of Victorian England and continued into the 1950s. Essex uses this as her backdrop to her story. Honestly I was not even sure there was a vampire in this book until he shows up to save Mina from those who are trying to save her from her self.
After I finished the book I found myself wishing this was an original story, as I want Essex to be hailed as a master storyteller. I hope others see what she has done; taken a classic and used it to write an amazing novel that sheds light on the oppressive attitudes of Victorian England and how “modern medicine’ hurt, rather than helped women. This is one of my favorite books of the year and I hope many others find it just as entertaining. I recommend this if you cannot get enough of vampire love stories, if you are interested in Victorian England and if you really like literary novels. Hell, I just highly recommend this book to everyone.