Review: Dracula in Love by Karen Essex
Author: Karen Essex
Genre/Pages: Fiction/ 384
Publisher: Doubleday; August 10, 2010
Rating: 2.5 Bookmarks
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?