This book is told completely through Mina's eyes. No longer a secondary character for the men to build themselves on, but a fully formed person in her own right trying to find her way in Victorian England. Born a poor Irish child, Mina learns that there is a way to improve her station set in life and that is to learn everything she can at a boarding school to find a husband of society. After abandonment by her own parents, this is a welcome ideal even if it means suppressing her more "wild" nature that tormented her parents. She soon captures the heart of Jonathan Harker and they become engaged. However, a muse of sorts keeps pestering Mina in her dreams until she wonders if this is all life has to offer. Of course, this part is familiar to those that loved the book, Dracula, but there are also different characters involved. Kate Reed, Mina's journalistic friend and even Bram Stoker himself join the cast. These characters are necessary to place our main characters within both familiar and unfamiliar territory within the book.
Karen Essex turns on the heat in this transporting and darkly haunting new tale of love and possession that puts forth the question: What if everything you knew about Dracula . . . was wrong?
From the shadowy banks of the River Thames to the wild and windswept coast of Yorkshire, the quintessential Victorian virgin Mina Murray vividly recounts in the pages of her private diary the intimate details of what transpired between her and Count Dracula—the joys and terrors of a passionate affair and her rebellion against a force of evil that has pursued her through time.Mina’s version of this timeless gothic vampire tale is a visceral journey into the dimly lit bedrooms, mist-filled cemeteries, and locked asylum chambers where she led a secret life, far from the chaste and polite lifestyle the defenders of her purity, and even her fiancé, Jonathan Harker, expected of her.Bram Stoker’s classic novel was only one side of the story. Now, for the first time, Dracula’s eternal muse reveals all. What she has to say is more sensual, more devious, and more enthralling than ever imagined. The result is a scintillating gothic novel that reinvents the tragic heroine Mina as a modern woman tor tured by desire.
This book is also not just about vampires and myth. It also holds some very real and historic issues of women of that day. Karen Essex makes it clear that the danger Mina and her female comrades face are not with preternatural "demons" but at the very hands of mortal men, some who had promised protection. Also, I found that it also speaks a bit (although lightly) about the power that was stripped away from women in some of the old traditions and religious practices. Mina rediscovers these myths and find them alive in England, but very watered down and misunderstood. Some of the myths even used as diagnosis in the "scientific" practices of Dr. Stewart and Dr. Van Helsing. I found this part to be historically accurate as well as interesting.
All in all I do give this book 4 stars. I had to take away a star because of the ending. It just didn't make sense to me. In fact, I feel that the ending could make some people not completely enjoy the book. However, taking it as a whole and not just an ending, I'd have to say that the book was well written and I really enjoyed the way she was able to add elements as well as change what we thought we knew about Dracula himself.
Here is a short video of Karen Essex talking about writing Dracula in Love
I'd like to thank Doubleday publishing for providing me with a copy of this book. No compensation was given for my review.