Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Pages: 457 (paperback)
Published: 2010 by Avon A
Recommended for: fans of Dracula and historical or paranormal romance
Mina Harker was a chaste and noble young Victorian woman who was brutally victimized by the evil Count Dracula. Or so Stoker's classic vampire novel Dracula has always led us to believe. Dracula, My Love reveals in flowing and expert prose the story of a very different Mina, one whom found herself romantically torn between her well-meaning husband, Johnathan, and of all people, the very ancient monstrosity who terrorized and maybe even murdered so many of the people she loved.
Yep, more Dracula fanfiction! I started this book very curious as to how Ms. James was going to convince us readers that Mina Harker's relationship with Dracula was not in fact one of victimization and helpless fear, but of love. I figured the author would have to somehow deviate a long way from the original Dracula in order to present her case... happily, I could not have been more wrong. In this first-person narrative, Mina is thrilled to spend time at the charming coastal town of Whitby with her best friend, Lucy Westenra. While exploring the seaside town after a storm, Mina and Lucy are as disturbed as the locals to learn that a ship without a crew has wrecked on the rocky coast. The only survivor: an enormous black dog which was sighted leaving the wreck. Mina becomes distraught when she learns that her beloved fiance Johnathan has been detained at Castle Dracula in faraway Transylvania and the return of Lucy's bizarre sleepwalking habits do nothing to ease her growing sense of anxiety and foreboding, especially after Mina follows her friend one night only to glimpse a tall, cloaked figure leaning over Lucy as if to bite her neck.
Mina is able to forget her fears only when she is in the companion of a charming foreigner from Eastern Europe who is looking to make England his new home. Mr. Wagner is handsome, cultured, and wealthy, and he seems to enjoy Mina's company as much-- if not more-- than she does his. To Mina, he seems the perfect gentleman, the perfect catch, even. Though she consistently strives to remember herself that she is engaged to Johnathan, she cannot help but feel intensely attracted and fascinated by this enigmatic stranger who speaks of history as though he experienced it first-hand. Once Mina discovers the truth and horrible fates begin to befall her friends, she quickly back-pedals, swearing to see an end to this horrid and unholy Count Dracula along with Van Helsing and his companions. Yet Mina finds herself unable to resist the allure of the Count, especially when it seems he may in fact not be the terrible monster he has been painted as by so many others.
This is a fantastic novel from start to finish, though the last half had me flipping pages almost too quickly, desperate to find out that fates of these characters whose fates I'd thought I already knew. That must be the mark of a great re-telling, and so Dracula, My Love most certainly is that. The way Dracula's apparently malevolent actions are explained is really well-done and convincing. I love how the book doesn't tie every loose end up, but instead leaves just enough unexplained after its shocking and stirring ending to make readers wonder.