Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex.

Dracula in LoveDracula in Love by Karen Essex

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Dracula in Love claims to be a retelling of the Mina-Dracula relationship from Bram Stoker's classic novel, Dracula. However, the story told by Essex is at best misleading and at worse implausible and annoying. Here's why:

1. The characters are inconsistent. Their personalities were all over the place, not a single one of them constant.

Jonathan Harker was a good man, then a bad man, then a good man. Morris Quince was a rotten scoundrel who wasn't.

The doctors from the lunatic asylum who treated women for sexual promiscuity were insane sexual deviates. The irony is lossed on no one, I'm sure. I'm still trying to figure out how this fits into the story as a whole, though.

But let us not forget the supposed "heroine" of the story, Mina Murray Harker, who has this unenviable ability to change her mind in the most drastic and dramatic fashion. I found it impossible to like her.

2. The connection between the characters was difficult to fathom, on so many levels. Many of the events that took place in Dracula in Love simply do not make sense when considered in light of the story as a whole. At the time, I quite enjoyed Essex's descriptions of the asylum, but in retrospect I struggle with understanding its purpose.

3. Despite the title, the Dark Prince himself (that is, Dracula) is almost completely absent for most of the book. He turns up for the last quarter, but then his role in the story is annoyingly and frustratingly told predominantly through dialogue. I couldn't help but feel that the author was in a hurry to finish, either to meet a deadline or simply because she could no longer be bothered with the story. A pity.

4. The reincarnated Sidhe concept had potential: It was a neat idea, but poorly executed. I think Essex could have achieved more with this storyline had she not waffled on and got distracted by other things earlier on in the piece. This portion of the story felt rushed and confusing. I think it was supposed to be that awe-inspiring supernatural twist to the story, but the author's inability to think it through ensured it completely fell flat.

5. The author seems to be lacking focus as the book has far too much filler, making the plot and characters seem inconsistent and undeveloped, especially at the end. Half the time I wasn't even sure I knew what she was talking about! Not even the ending was redeeming: Like most of the story, it was simply confusing and implausible.

6. I had expected a supernatural love story set during one of my favourite periods in history (Victorian England), but what I got instead was nothing more than misleading erotica: Dracula in Love contained a whole lot of lust, but little Dracula and absolutely no love whatsoever.

A disappointing read overall.


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