01 September 2010

Book Review: Dracula, My Love

Title: Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker
Author: Syrie James
Publisher: Avon
Release Date: 20 July 2010
Date Finished: 30 August 2010

Buy | Borrow | Accept | Avoid

Challenges: 100+ Reading Challenge, Reading Resolutions, Women UnBound, Hogwarts Reading Challenge,

The Short and Sweet of It
The story of Dracula retold from Mina Harker's perspective, Dracula, My Love refits the tale within the framework of a love story where Mina is painfully positioned between two men - Jonathan and Dracula - and forced to try and protect each. The story was as riveting as the original.

A Bit of a Ramble
Events coalesced perfectly for me regarding this book. I had just read that Neil Gaiman wrote the introduction for The New Annotated Dracula, and since I love him and the story, I was craving the book. I resisted due to my book buying ban, but then I was offered Dracula, My Love for review, and I realized that Fate was knocking at my door.  In my review of The New Annotated Dracula, I mention that Leslie S. Klinger, the editor, went about annotating with the perspective that the story was true, that the characters did in fact keep these journals, and Stoker merely collected them into a chronological narrative. I adored this, and I went in to Dracula, My Love with the same perspective.

When Bram Stoker compiled the journals necessary to tell the tale of Dracula, he didn't know that Mina Harker had heavily censored her journals in order to protect herself and both of the men she loved. Now, Mina recounts the events of that desperate time, revealing the truth about her love for both Jonathan and Dracula and about the true nature of a being far different from the vicious killer he was thought to be.

The Jonathan-Mina-Dracula love triangle was fantastic. Throughout the story, Mina's feelings for the two men in her life were consistent. She loved them both, differently but equally, and I really appreciated this set up. Many times in a story like this one, the woman is not choosing between two men she loves; instead, she is choosing between her true, passionate love and a man whom she doesn't love but who can provide stability. That set up annoys me to no end, and I thought that her deep feelings for each man added a greater weight to the events in the narrative. 

I was most impressed by how authentic the story felt. James has managed to stay true to the original plot of Dracula while simultaneously correcting some of the inconsistencies, contradictions, and unanswered questions from the original text (of which there are many). I had no problem whatsoever integrating this  narrative into my larger meta-narrative of Dracula.

If I have one complaint, it is the ending. Like in the original Dracula, the end is much too abrupt for me, what would be "The Big Fight Scene" in a modern story is merely a few paragraphs in both Dracula tales. Plus, the end-end with Dracula and Mina and Jonathan and the strange character turnabout and the.....okay, I'm just not even going to try as I don't want to spoil anything.

Overall, I am very happy that I spent the month of August immersed in the world of Dracula by reading the original, watching an adaptation, and reading this novel. I think I may need a Dracula break now...or I could just jump right in to Konstantinos' Vampyre: The Occult Truth.  We'll see.

This Book Around the Web
If I've missed your review, let me know!

Syrie James' Website; Bookalicious; Linus's Blanket; Hist-Fic Chick; Reading Guide on Harper Collins;

Question: What is the proper term for a book like this? Spin-off? Retelling? Adaptation? I'm not sure if I'm just currently blanking or if there are too many possibilities or if I'm an idiot and this is one of those momentary lapses like when you suddenly forget how to spell "what".


  1. I actually looked for that Annotated Dracula when I was up in Chicago and they didn't have it. If they had, I would have added it to my stack. Despite my weariness of all things vampire, for some reason Dracula is still cool with me. And I have no idea what this book would be considered. Whatever you call it is good with me!

  2. My favorite vampire character is also Lestat. I love Anne Rice’s books. All of Syrie James’ books sound good to me, too.

  3. Courtney, thank you so much for reviewing Dracula, My Love, and for spreading the word about the Twitter chat tomorrow! I’m so glad you enjoyed the book!

  4. My favorite vampire character is Edward Cullen….One because he is who really got me into liking vampires, and two because he is just awesome!

  5. My favorite vamp would have to be Rhage from The Black Daggerbrotherhood or Bones from The Night Huntress. Please don’t make me chose!

  6. I think a retelling is the proper word here, as it doesn't do anything more than change perspective on the events of the original, like Wicked, no matter how much it deepens the original narrative. I'm glad you enjoyed this- I'm so burnt out on vampires that I don't think I would.

  7. I have to agree with Clare, I'd say retelling (and by the way, I loved Wicked!) I hadn't heard of this one but will have to check it out :)

  8. Great review! I've been really interested to see what this one is like!

  9. So I haven't really looked at this one any because it seems like a frivilous knockoff of a classic and I'm a bit tired of that sort of thing, but then I see you giving it a positive review, and I have to rethink. You liked Dracula, right? I hope I'm remembering that right. I've not read Dracula yet (hope to this RIP), but in general I don't like retellings of classics unless they live up to classic standard quality. I guess I was just thinking this was another good excuse for a YA vampire romance novel... (I'm so judgemental, I know...)

  10. Glad to read you enjoyed this one too. Not sure what I would call this either...re-telling sounds best to me though. Thanks for the recommendation.

  11. Dracula is a book I own and have wanted to read, but this one sounds much more interesting to me.

  12. Sandy - Dracula is just such a different sort of vampire than the contemporary version that being burnt out on one doesn't necessarily preclude being burnt out on the other (if that makes sense).

    Clare - See my comment to Sandy. And I think you're right on retelling; it just seems I'm missing some technical term...

    Mel - I really enjoyed this book; and I'd have to say that I tend to like retellings of stories I've enjoyed, so I'm not sure how much that came in to play.

    Jill - I really enjoyed it. You should give it a try.

    Amanda - You should read this after reading the original Dracula; it was just artful how James filled in the blanks left in the Dracula narratiave.

    Jenny Girl - I might be crazy but I thought there was some technical term...

    Anna - I would read Dracula first!

  13. Love love love love this book. I think she had to end it the way she did if she wanted to remain true to the original Dracula that I have read every year since I was 8. I think I know that story best of any piece of lit.

  14. Forgive me for thinking you should have held off on all this Dracula stuff until October!! : )

  15. I have never read any of the Dracula books and I know I am missing out. I want to at least spend time with the original.

  16. Fate did come knocking! Very cool! Glad you enjoyed it. I haven't read Dracula but I really want to read this book.

  17. Pam - Yeah, I agree. I just wish for a more detailed ending to Dracula.

    Jenners - Ha! I thought about that...after I'd already finished reading. :)

    Sheila - You really should!

    Rebecca - I would read Dracula first as I think it really lends a whole dimension to reading this one.


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