Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Dracula, My Love by Syrie James


SUMMARY (from Goodreads): A vibrant dramatization, told from Mina’s point of view, brings to life the crucial parts of Stoker’s story while showcasing Mina’s sexual awakening and evolution as a woman, and revealing a secret that could destroy her life. Torn between two men – a loving husband and a dangerous lover – Mina struggles to hang on to the deep love she’s found within her marriage, even as she is inexorably drawn to Dracula himself, the vampire that everyone she knows is determined to destroy.

MY OPINION:

I have never read Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But, I have heard of Dracula in other books and in films, and he was clearly evil. So, I was intrigued by the premise this book sets of Dracula not being at all that bad.

Dracula, My Love is a retelling of Stoker’s story from Mina Harker’s point of view. Syrie James captures the spirit of the late 19th century writing style perfectly, making the setting and the characters come to life, and the book reads smoothly and effortlessly. 

I was delighted to get to know Mina, a modern, open-minded, independent woman. She is rebellious, but still irreproachable, and that is a difficult composure to master.

Dracula is an old type of a vampire, very powerful and dangerous, yet mysterious and charming, all in all, a complex character.

Van Helsing is a typical fanatic – bent on achieving his purpose of banishing what he believes is evil at all costs. He is an arrogant man who thinks he knows everything and will not even consider the possibility of being mistaken.

Jonathan is a brave and ambitious man who rose from rags to riches with a lot of hard work and some luck. He loves Mina, but for some time puts the propriety before his love for her, which made me dislike him at first, but then he comes around and becomes quite a sympathetic character.

I enjoyed the twists and turns of the story. Mina’s and Dracula’s version of the events mirror what is known to other people very well. I had some problems with certain details, but I expected those would be solved by the end of the book and everything would fall together into a satisfactory whole. I was totally on Mina’s and Dracula’s side the whole time, rooting for them.

And then the last 60-70 pages happened. As much as I loved the book up until those last chapters, I hated the ending. Let me make it clear – I have no problem with tragic endings, or inconclusive endings, or with 180 degrees turns at the end. But this one made me angry, because it destroyed several plot and character elements up until then. In my opinion, the ending ruined the book as a whole. There are three crucial elements that lead to this.

Firstly, the fight against vampires in this book has an old-fashioned, religious undertone, which I do not like. To me scattering the Host crumbs into earth is sacrilege, and I do not think evil would be fended off by such an act. I know, you will say, this is fiction, but still, it bothered me. I do not like how this book sticks to the concept of condemning one kind of ‘people’ (i.e. vampires) just on the basis of what they are and not on the basis of how they live.

Secondly, another thing I hated in the book is stupidity. I can accept that an inexperienced 19th century woman would not know or realise certain things about life. But please, an intelligent, educated woman and five men who think themselves sophisticated and all being as ignorant as they are towards the end of this book downright angered me. SPOILER: Nausea, messed-up sleeping schedule, loss of appetite on one hand and weird food cravings on the other hand are surely a sign of a woman turning into a vampire, right? Not a chance she could be pregnant, nope. Oh, my. END OF SPOILER

Thirdly and lastly, Dracula’s behaviour at the end shows great inconsistency of his character in comparison to his personality in the rest of the book. It seems as if the author could not decide what kind of character Dracula should be – if we were not in the 21st century I might even think the ending underwent religious censorship.   

I think this is the longest review I have ever written. I apologise for such a rant. Even though I was upset and disappointed by the ending I am glad I read the book, because the rest of it was a delightful read.

RECOMMENDATION: I think lovers of paranormal romance and gothic novel would certainly enjoy this book. My dissatisfaction with the ending, affected by my personal set of beliefs, should not discourage you from giving it a try. You might find it to your liking.

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