Dracula in Love

Rating: 
4

"If the spirits of the dead call out to you, swaddle yourself tight with your shawl, make the sign of the cross for protection, and walk away." Like the spirit of the dead, DRACULA IN LOVE (coming August 10 from Doubleday) calls out to the reader -- but instead of walking away, you should run to this fresh perspective on Bram Stoker’s classic novel.

Author Karen Essex (pictured left) has taken the original DRACULA and turned it inside out, "exposing the subconscious mind by illuminating the cultural fears, as well as the rich brew of myths and lore, that went into Stoker’s creation." Narrated by Mina Harker, DRACULA IN LOVE reveals the "the true story" that has remained Mina’s secret up until now. It’s a haunting, feminist portrayal of eternal love, forbidden desires and Victorian virtues, with all of Stoker’s original characters (with the exception of Renfield) present and a new light turned on some of his famous, unforgettable scenes.

Although DRACULA IN LOVE utilizes Stoker’s storyline, there are two major differences between the novels. First, the men come off here as chauvinistic pigs who think little of women, as opposed to the caring and sympathetic portrayals in the original. We learn that Lord Godalming only married Lucy for her money, and Van Helsing (or Vol Helsinger in this version) is a mad, Frankenstein-style scientist who believes women are the root of all evil. Quincey Morris (Quince Morris) is a promiscuous American painter and Dr. Seward has an unhealthy obsession with Mina, constantly trying to sway her fidelity for her husband, Jonathan Harker. This new twist on the beloved male characters may upset a few readers, but overall, this distinct approach helps support Essex’s Victorian-era themes.

The second difference is Dr. Seward’s asylum. Essex chooses to populate it with women who have been incarcerated due to sexual activities that society has deemed immoral. Today, the activities described would be considered normal and healthy for women to engage in. Essex even uses original late-19th-century physicians’ notes from the archives of Bethlem Royal Hospital in order to make DRACULA IN LOVE as realistic as possible.

If there is one thing that really stands out in Essex’s take on DRACULA, it’s her use of characterization. It’s easy to fall in love with (or loathe) the characters. Stoker’s portrayal of the women in DRACULA comes up a bit stale at times, but Essex has breathed new life into them without destroying Stoker’s masterpiece. Even the men, as appalling as they are, still manage to come out beautifully in this variation.

With so many different variations and perspectives on DRACULA available, one has to wonder if DRACULA IN LOVE will just get lost among the crowd. The answer to that question is hopefully no. It’s a refreshing take on a classic that is sure to mesmerize readers -- especially female readers, around the globe.


Review by Theresa Dillon

 

Fanged Films

USA, 1970

Philippines, 1969
Blood of the Vampires

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

Drawn to Vamps?

Vol. 1 No. 1
Into The Tomb
Vol. 1 No. 107
The Monster Marines