Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker by Syrie James

Genre: historical romance
Pages: 457 (paperback)
Published: 2010 by Avon A
Recommended for: fans of Dracula and historical or paranormal romance

My Take:

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. 

Cover: 5/5
Premise: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Plot: 5/5
Overall Rating:


P!nky said...

This sounds so good!! I've never even read the original Dracula, but why not start with a fan fiction? ;) Can i borrow it to read at the beach, maybe?

Kat said...

@Pinky-- Oh, read the original Dracula first, -chan! It's a six star book, in my opinon and, no, it's not boring. :) XO

Syrie James said...

Thanks Kat, for the wonderful review of my novel. I'm so glad you enjoyed it--it was thrilling to conceive, and I admit I fell madly in love with Dracula while writing it! I urge readers to begin with my novel first, if they haven't yet read the classic, and then read Stoker's version if you wish, to see how they compare. Please visit me at !

Kantore said...

Great review, I really want to read the book now! And I love the blog too; these reviews are so helpful!

Kat said...

@Syrie James-- The concept of Dracula, My Love is an amazing one-- I can only imagine how thrilling it must have been to write! Thanks so much for stopping by, and I must say I love your site. Very in-depth and informative-- can't wait to read and review another of your books! :)

@Kantore-- Thank you!!

Two things that make my day(more like month): people saying that one of my reviews made them want to read a book; visits from authors I admire. And of course, visits from little sisters! ;)

Aylee said...

I can't believe I've never read the original before, but this sounds amazing! Though I'm a bit confused as to which it is recommended to read first from the comments.

The Happy Booker said...

I'm glad to hear such good reviews of this book. I've been dying to read it. It has rather mixed reviews on Goodreads, it seems like its one of those love it or hate it books, those are always the ones I like to read. I can't wait to finally get my hands on a copy of this one!

Donna @ The Happy Booker

Kate said...

I have been indifferent about reading this one (not much of a vampire fan)...but love Syrie James. After reading your review, though, my curiosity has been piqued!

Audra said...

I read Karen Essex's take on Mina Harker and Dracula and wasn't wild about it, so I didn't pick this one up -- but I feel like I should. Nice review -- I'm not a vampire girl myself so I fail to see the appeal, but perhaps Mina and I can fall for Dracula together...? ;)

Kat said...

@Audra-- You mean Dracula In Love, don't you? I had that one on my tbr, but after reading Dracula, My Love, I think I'll skip it. This totally rocked the concept-- didn't think that one could be as good.

Ha, I'm not really a 'vampire girl', either! I am, however, a Dracula girl. The tale of the original vampiric villain is so far removed from the paranormal romance hitting shelves these days. Hope you'll give this one a read. :)

Audra said...

@Kat: I do love the original Stoker version -- Victoriana is my passion so that kind of vampire I like. (I also like the Gothic-y vampires, like, classic gothic, not sparkly vampires.)

Dracula in Love was great in that it really highlighted the absolutely horror with which Victorians viewed women, which was interesting -- but after making Mina sort of feisty and interesting in the first half of the book, in the second half I felt like she turned into this total passive shell of herself. It was so disappointing.

I'll definitely put James' take in the TBR then -- I know many love her books and I've not read any of them!

christina said...

When I picked it up I didn't know if I'd love it or hate it. I only recently read the original Dracula last October. I didn't have a clue HOW they would pull it off. But I LOVED IT. I simply adored how the author changed up the characters and their personalities and motivations.

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