Dracula in Love by Karen Essex – Book Review

Dracula in Love by Karen Essex
Published by Doubleday, an imprint of Random House

As a maligned and psychologically abused child, Mina Murray has only ever wanted from her adult life is normalcy. She renounced her strange ways after being sent to boarding school and now it seems she may have achieved the normalcy she has always desired; not only has she had success as a teacher at her former boarding school, she is now engaged to the handsome young solicitor, Jonathan Harker. All is not as it seems with Mina, however. She has been dreaming incredibly sensual dreams, all of which involve a handsome, mysterious stranger, who Mina is certain she has seen somewhere before.

“Dracula” is a literary classic, but it is written entirely from the point of view of the men in the story. “Dracula in Love” is Karen Essex’s response to Stoker opus, told entirely from Mina’s point of view. Instead of remaining a cardboard cutout of the apex of Victorian womanhood, Essex’s Mina is a fully fleshed hotblooded woman. She yearns not only for the normalcy of marriage, but for the intimacies that accompany it. And even being engaged doesn’t keep her for lusting after her erotic dreams.

When people think about “Dracula,” they often forget just how much Stoker’s masterpiece is about sex, because it is disguised for Victorian sensibilities. But really, vampire myths are sex central: the penetration, the exchanging of bodily fluids. What I really appreciated about “Dracula in Love” is that Essex acknowledged how much the story was about sex and incorporated it into her story, without being needlessly salacious and graphic. It was really a very fine line to walk and people who are sensitive to sex in their novels may think that she’s taken it slightly too far, but I thought she achieved a very good balance.

A delightful re-imagining of “Dracula” and vampire lore with a strong female perspective. I loved Essex’s take on the vampire mythology as well. Highly recommended.

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19 comments to Dracula in Love by Karen Essex – Book Review

  • I’m just about sold on this one! So many good reviews!

  • I don’t know if I liked this one as much as you (I’ll be reviewing it next week) but I also thought Essex did a good job with the sexuality thing. It’s what vampires are about, after all. I think I’m just too attached to the original novel to entirely appreciate it, I think.

  • I love the idea of this, and I think I can use this one in my classroom as a companion to Dracula. Thanks I will pick it up immediately :)

  • I totally agree – I think Essex did a good job with the sexuality. I’ve seen complaints about it, but really Dracula itself is so sensual, it makes sense in this context.

  • I have a feeling this book is going to be huge, but I don’t think it’s for me. The whole vampire thing just doesn’t interest me.

  • I’m looking forward to starting this when I finally get through Dracula. Glad for the heads up on the sexuality – I’m hit or miss on that in books but better if I expect it.

  • I want to read this book. I have been seeing it around, a lot, of course. There are many good reviews and many that are “meh” about it. I have never read Dracula so I wonder if maybe I should. Then again, it seems that those who feel “meh” towards the read have already read Dracula.

    I expect sexuality of some sort in vampire books, they are sensual.

  • Thank you for your review. I’ll be reading this one!

  • I’m reading this one within the week…so happy to see you recommend it!

  • Pam

    Did you read Dracula, My Love? I really enjoyed that, should I give this a go too?

    • I haven’t yet, although I have it. The only person I now who has definitely read both is Allie for Hist Fic Chick. I do want to read Syrie James’s take soon to compare, though.

  • I saw this at BN yesterday and really wanted it – but they were asked $25! Crazy! Glad you liked it!

  • Fabulous! I already have this on my target list thanks to a mention by Tantor Media…but your approval seals the deal :)


  • Well, that is why Dracula gets the ladies to offer themselves so easily…because he was a sexy dude! If I didn’t read this, it would be because of the sex, it would be because I am weary of vampires.

  • I’ve read good things about this and it sounds good. I’m little hesitant to read it though because couldn’t finish Leonardo’s Swans.

    There’s award for you in my blog :)

  • Jennifer

    That’s a real vampire book, not like the new craps like Twilight, Vampire Diaries and such other things. Very good review, very good book A+++ :)

  • This sounds like an interesting take on Dracula and sounds much better than the tenn vampire books that I don’t really like. I’m going to check this one out.

  • I LOVE this line: “Instead of remaining a cardboard cutout of the apex of Victorian womanhood, Essex’s Mina is a fully fleshed hotblooded woman.” You’re a terrific writer. :-)