Review: Dracula in Love by Karen Essex

Title: Dracula In Love

Author: Karen Essex

Genre/Pages: Fiction/ 384

Publisher: Doubleday; August 10, 2010

Rating: 2.5 Bookmarks

Source: Publisher

Nat’s One-Sentence Synopsis:  Part re-imagining and part re-telling, Karen Essex puts a new spin on Bram Stoker’s classic.

Before I started reading Dracula In Love, I took a short refresher course in Dracula by re-reading sections of the original and discussing the differences between it and the 1931 Bela Lugosi film with my husband, a horror film buff.

Dracula In Love is told from Mina Murray’s point of view, but Essex takes Stoker’s pure and innocent Mina and gives voice to a sensual and sexual side of her that was never broached in the original novel.  This was disconcerting for me.  I’m not a Puritan by any standards, but Mina’s frank erotic experiences were a bit much.  I went into this book looking for something a bit different.  I know that the original novel was rife with sexual themes, but this novel was too overt for my taste.

If you can get past the Mina’s  sexuality and descriptive sex scenes, there is a creative and well-written re-imagining of Dracula within the pages.  Essex knows her stuff and her attention to detail creates an authentic feeling in the story.  Maybe she is trying to give a modern voice and another dimension to the women who were so sexually oppressed  in the Victorian era.

Female sexuality, and the threat of the ‘modern woman’ were themes in the original novel, and even though Lucy Westenra is given over to her wanton and lustful desires after her transformation,  I thought that Lucy and Mina were almost cheapened by their behavior in Dracula In Love.

The author took liberties, as authors who write stories like this do, but I think this novel would have been even better if Essex would have dialed down the erotic dreams and actions.  There really was more to Essex’s novel than sex, but I admit to getting hung up on it because I didn’t expect it to be so graphic.  Readers who don’t mind a re-interpretation of a classic could enjoy this novel and the more modern sensibilities that the female characters have.

Do overtly erotic novels offend your sensibilities too, or am I just old-school? Would you be willing to give this novel a go?

14 Comments

  • At 2010.08.11 01:09, Michelle @ The True Book Addict said:

    Oh, dear! I have this for review for August/September and I was really looking forward to reading it. But I am not a fan of erotic scenes. This may seem funny coming from an Anne Rice fan, but I’m not a fan of her erotica. And her vampires do not have “sex” persay, so it’s not really erotica, if you know what I mean. Anyway, I’m still going to read this because I love Dracula so much, but I’m glad I read your review. It gave me a heads up so I can be prepared (to skim those parts…LOL!). I haven’t really noticed this mentioned by other reviewers, but maybe we’re just overly sensitive to the big “E” , Natalie! Good honest review, girl!
    .-= Michelle @ The True Book Addict´s last blog ..Mailbox Monday-Its Mondaywhat are you reading another late edition =-.

    • At 2010.08.11 07:48, Natalie said:

      Michelle, I’ll tell you that Karen Essex writes very well and that she includes so much great back story and history in this book. I just got a tad hung up on serpentine sex imagery and the like. I hope you enjoy this novel because it really is well executed with a fresh idea and extensive research.

      • At 2010.08.11 08:41, bermudaonion (Kathy) said:

        You’re probably old school, but so am I, so this book probably isn’t for me. Thanks for an honest review.

        • At 2010.08.11 09:18, S. Krishna said:

          The sex imagery didn’t really bother me in this book. Dracula has such sensual undertones to me, I felt like it fit in a retelling.
          .-= S. Krishna´s last blog ..Book Review- Once in a Blue Moon – Eileen Goudge =-.

          • At 2010.08.11 09:23, Natalie said:

            i agree that the original was pretty sensual but felt a few scenes in this book could have been dialed down just a bit.

          • At 2010.08.11 09:21, Care said:

            I don’t know – I’m intrigued. But I know I would insist that myself read Stoker’s original before tackling this and who knows when I’ll get to that.
            .-= Care´s last blog ..Fingersmith =-.

            • At 2010.08.11 11:29, Jane Steen said:

              Maybe it’s my age, but I’m so tired of sex scenes in books, and said so in my blog once ( http://keepgoingyoufool.blogspot.com/2010/04/hold-on-to-your-hats-girls.html ). I’d give this one a miss.

              It’s a shame, really, because a retelling from Mina’s POV would be fun IF it were in the voice of a Victorian woman, who might have erotic dreams but probably wouldn’t have the vocabulary to express them. I could see a real winner there, but this sounds like just another attempt to make money from erotica without the bother of dreaming up an original plot.
              .-= Jane Steen´s last blog ..In which I interview Mary Beard- whose blog is way better than mine =-.

              • At 2010.08.11 17:04, Andi said:

                I’ve read several reviews of this one, and not all have mentioned the overt sexuality. It doesn’t offend me or anything to read it, but most of the time if it’s too out in the open, it gets boring. I found all of the sex-talk in A Reliable Wife beyond tiresome. Blarrg!
                .-= Andi´s last blog ..Prioritizing Reading =-.

                • At 2010.08.11 17:06, Meg said:

                  I’m with Andi — some erotic scenes are OK, but if it’s too out in the open and lacking any subtlety… it definitely gets boring, and I lose interest quickly! For me, sex in books is all about tension… we want to feel the push-and-pull leading up to, you know, it. If we get there too fast or experience it too often in one novel, it stops being interesting.

                  And that’s the end of my sexy talk for the day. :)
                  .-= Meg´s last blog ..Wordless Wednesday- Saturday at Solomons Island- Maryland =-.

                  • At 2010.08.11 20:31, Jenners said:

                    Hmmmm…I guess I don’t know the answer to your question. I don’t think I’ve read an erotic book in ages.
                    .-= Jenners´s last blog ..Review- The Passage by Justin Cronin =-.

                    • At 2010.08.12 14:39, Vanessa Lipske said:

                      I read this book andI found that the sex was not overly done. Yes, there were some intimate scenes but I did not really think that the writing was too overt.
                      Dracula was a seducer of sorts and so I felt like it was part of his intentions. I think Karen Essex is a fine writer who painted a brush of how repressed the victorian woman was.

                      • At 2010.08.15 01:05, Literary Feline said:

                        I’ve been curious about this book, but also a little reluctant to give it a try just for the reasons you list that you didn’t care for in the book. I don’t mind some sex in books, but prefer it to be of the more subtle variety rather than graphic. I also don’t like gratuitous sex. I do love the story of Dracula and read a different sort of retelling of it last year which I enjoyed. It went off on a weird tangent but was still quite entertaining. The title and author escape me at the moment.
                        .-= Literary Feline´s last blog ..Review- The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard C Morais =-.

                        • At 2010.08.15 15:39, Jennifer said:

                          I’ll probably pass on this one. Dracula was never a favorite of mine. Even more, I’m not too into the overt sexuality. Don’t get me wrong, I’m no prude, but there is such a thing as too much sex in a book.
                          .-= Jennifer´s last blog ..Review- Damsel Under Stress =-.

                          • At 2010.08.16 16:45, Kerry said:

                            Sounds interesting, although the sexual aspect of it scares me a little bit because my younger sister (who just turned 15) just read and loved this.
                            .-= Kerry´s last blog ..The Sum Total of Mondays =-.