11 November 2010

Book Banter -- Dracula in Love

Title: Dracula in Love
Author: Karen Essex
Genre: Literary fiction
Length: 368 pages
Plot Basics: What if the story of Dracula was told by Mina Murray Harker, instead of her husband? In a lush Victorian setting, Mina narrates her own story as she crosses the taboos of how women were supposed to be behave in her day as in Dracula-fashion, modern technologies and ideas clash with time period mores. Rather than being tormented by the vampire count, Mina is seduced by him in her dreams all the while trying to shield her good friend, Lucy, her husband Jonathan, and lastly herself, from the count's charms.

Banter Points: Brilliant. Sweeping. Breath-taking. Essex's journey into the social expectations of Victorian women through the telling of the Dracula story is genius. No longer is Dr. Von Helsinger the savior of the little company, but a scientist relying on what we now know as torturous methods to "cure" women of sexual desire. No longer is Count Dracula to be feared but heralded as Mina's potential rescuered from her life of civilized oppression. I also hadn't read a really good vampire novel in quite some time and Essex wrote a vampire love story where the vampire was both scary and sexy, a balance that's missed in many of the modern vampire tales.

Bummer Points: I read Stoker's Dracula a few years ago and I was bummed that I didn't remember the story very well to know when Essex was veering from the original, or interpreting events through Mina's lens.  (Actually, while reading, I kept seeing Hugh Jackman in his awful portrayal of Van Helsing which just didn't fit the Doctor Von Helsinger that Essex was writing).

Word Nerd Recommendation: I picked this book up off the new books shelf at the library, not sure what to expect. It's for sure going to be in my top 10 for the year. If you like old stories told in new settings, Dracula in Love is a great pick.

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