The Pleasure of a Good Book

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Let’s take a little break from my DIY home adventures today. After all, I promised you variety and I’m a woman of my word. Despite my crazy schedule, I always try to take time out for my mental health in the form of a good book. Over the years I’ve had many people, other mom’s especially, ask me how I manage to do as much reading as I do. When I want to, I am capable of reading a book a day (yes this has happened). Normally, I chose not to read more than two in one week. It’s simple really. I manage to read this way because I make it a priority. I can’t stress enough, that I consider this an investment in my mental health. Every mommy, or breathing person for that matter, needs time to mentally check out and regroup. Whatever works for you and is legal, do it. I prefer to do it by escaping into the problems of another through a good work of fiction.

Recently I took time out on a Sunday evening to finish a book I had started earlier in the week, Dracula in Love by Karen Essex. I was drawn in by the title and I liked the idea of retelling the classic from the point of view of Mina Harker. I’m also a sucker for romance involving vampires.

Dracula in Love

The story is told from the point of view of Mina Harker and from the beginning she explains that she is telling her story to deal with the inaccuracies of the original work of fiction. The clever author has some fun with this by turning Bram Stoker into an unnamed character described as a writer that she encounters on the fringe of key moments in the story.

Many of the character’s have notable differences from the classic. Mina, describes herself as growing up talking to fairies and animals, frightening her parents and after being orphaned, growing up in an academy for girl’s that is little more than a prep school for marriage. She suppresses her abilities and when the story begins she is a teacher at the school where she grew up, engaged to marry Jonathan Harker. Her abilities begin to come through in frightening episode’s of sleep walking.

Quincy Morris, the brash American from Texas, is now Morris Quince, a New York playboy, spending his time abroad rebelling from his parents by pursuing a career as a painter. He’s also carrying on a passionate affair with Lucy Westerna, who is engaged to Arther Holmwood. Dr. Seward and Dr. Van Helsing are colleagues in a mental hospital. There are minor characters who were never in the original, but the remaining characters are essentially the same as the classic.

There are some interesting additions to the story line, but for at least the first half of the book, the major plot points from the classic are all touched on. Including Jonathan’s trip to Eastern Europe to conduct business with the Count, Mina’s trip to the coast to visit with her friend Lucy, the mysterious ship wreck with a dead crew, Jonathan being discovered in a hospital with brain fever, his marriage to Mina and the death of Lucy.

What stood out to me was the twist on the original plotlines. Lucy’s plotline changed from victim of a vampire, death and rebirth as a vampire, to victim of the Victorian mental institution. It was an interesting and sad look at how easily a normal woman’s appitates and behavior could be turned against her by men who labeled her as insane and forced her into “treatments” which are little more than torture. In fact the “water treatment” described in detail reminded me of a variation on water boarding that is used as a form of torture and a hot button issue in politics.

The romance plotline between the Count and Mina, which was the draw to the book, left me feeling disappointed. It took so long to get to it and was so brief. To me it lacked the passion that you might expect soul mates to have for each other. The explanation of the bond they share and how he became immortal was an unexpected twist on what you might have otherwise expected. I found it to be a refreshing take.

Overall I enjoyed the book, even though I personally found the ending unsatisfying. I won’t spoil it by telling you why, but I will say it felt like the ending was written just to tie the story back to the original and it did an excellent job of that. Do I think this book is worth reading? Absolutely. I enjoyed the raw vision of Victorian society from an unflattering angle. The writing did an excellent job of painting a visual and sensory experience. If you’re expecting a paranormal romance, this is not it. Although there are paranormal elements. If you like historical romance that boasts a little something out of the ordinary, this book is for you.

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