Book: Dracula In Love
If you’re familiar with the original Dracula tale, then you don’t need an overview of the story. All the events are pretty much faithful to the original, and I haven’t read the original recently enough to nitpick over any deviations. Suffice it to say that it feels very much like it follows the original story.
I liked the retelling from Mina’s point of view. Victorian women are very interesting, in their tight corsets and excruciating attention to manners and details. Mina is a teacher at a girls’ school, where instead of manly subjects like history and math, the girls are trained to become the very best wife-material. Teatime and fashion and conversation and elocution and every other type of manners. So, of course, Mina is extremely proper — but she does have a fine line of rebel in her, which she can never fully suppress and does not understand. The reasons for this become clear in a fairly unbelievable reveal later in the book.
Her boringly perfect fiancee, Johnathan, goes away on a trip and Mina goes to visit her dear friend Lucy. Many things transpire during this time. Mina begins to develop an intense relationship with a strange dream-man who only seems to show up when she is sleepwalking, and Lucy, engaged to a perfect a**hole, is having a torrid affair with an American. And, it turns out, Johnathan was having wild threesomes and moresomes off at the Count’s castle. Ah, the perfection of Victorian society.
Eventually everything goes to hell, as it always does in Dracula tales. Johnathan emerges with a brain fever, Lucy is locked away in a mental ward for hysteria, and Mina finds herself torn between her friend, her new husband, and her dream-lover.
Enter: The Count. Dashing, dangerous, mysterious, ruthless, he is everything Mina does not admire, and yet, he is her soulmate (huh? yes, exactly). Mina has known this man, her true husband, for hundreds of years, as she struggles with the decision of whether or not to become immortal like him. She is reborn, over and over, until she finally chooses. I feel like this sudden transition in the narrative line of the book was a little jarring, although, whatever. I’m all for reincarnation and true love.
She does choose, but then things get all muddy. I was actually really disappointed with the ending of this book and chose to skim over most of it and rewrote it in my head. Here is what I think should have happened. I think Mina should have decided to say to hell with Victorian society and her wimpy-yet-controlling husband, ditched them all, and gone off to eternity with the Count. He loves her, all her darkness and secrets, and it kind of sounds like the sex was amazing (as compared to Johnathan, who could barely consummate their marriage). Castles and riches and servants and power and true love. Go for it, Mina! Instead, she continues on in some kind of limbo-state, and the ending remained unclear. I wasn’t thrilled, but the rest of the book was pretty fun and good light historical-vampire-romance-feminist commentary.
So, I would say this is a good book if you like Dracula lore, and if you like retellings. It wasn’t perfect, and it was fairly light reading, but it was perfectly enjoyable. I didn’t like the ending, but maybe you would. It did, however, make me want to see the 90s version of Dracula, with Gary Oldman and Winona Ryder. I kind of loved that movie. I wouldn’t mind seeing it again soon.