Book Review: Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

If you have ever read Bram’s Stoker’s Dracula, then you know it is a great work of literature. WImagehen I first read it I knew nothing of the themes of which it addressed. For me, it was simply an incredible story of an immortal being that would serve as the basis for every vampire characterized in movies and novels for years to come.

When Francis Ford Coppola made the movie Bram Stoker’s Dracula it was a few years after my first reading of the novel. In it, I saw an entirely new version of the story. Gone were the messages around the roles of women in Victorian culture and in their place an intense love that defied reason and time – a love that would never die.

When I saw Karen Essex’s book a few month back I was intrigued. It offered a new take on the story of Dracula by telling the story from Mina Murray’s perspective, and I loved this idea. What had we ever really known about the character of Mina other than she was a food source for Count Dracula’s manipulative game with Jonathan Harker? I was intrigued at the possibility of a story that dug even deeper than that of the one Francis Ford Coppola tried to tell in his movie. A book that flipped the entire bloodthirsty legend on its head and gave Mina power. I couldn’t wait to dive in.

But soon after diving in, I stopped.

Then picked it back up.

Then stopped again.

Sadly it went that way for months. Something about the writing felt forced – the language flowing in and out of that used in Victorian England and today’s society, unnatural. But eventually one day I did push ahead, thanks to a backup in the MUNI tunnel. So when forced to continue reading I found the book finally pick up.

So I began again.

And as I read, I began to grow curious about the past lives of Mina and Count Dracula – about the connection they shared over many lifetimes. But the story didn’t answer my curiosity. It didn’t show me a love that carried the reader from century to century, showing glimpses of the life they had with one another in each. Rather, it told a story of an incredibly pent up Victorian lady who, despite the societal confines of her time, loses her mind whenever a thousand year old immortal touches her. And when Essex did finally deliver on the back story of Mina’s lineage, I completely lost interest. She was a Sidhe, fairies from Irish Mythology. LAME!

Now, if you know anything about Karen Essex, you know she is anything but unaccomplished. Among today’s writers, she ranks up there as one of the best, frequently sourced for screenplays and other writing. But sadly, this book fell flat for me and I was disappointed.

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