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Dracula in Love Paperback – July 5, 2011

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Editorial Reviews Review

Bruce Feiler Reviews Dracula in Love

Bruce Feiler is one of America’s most popular voices on faith and family. He is the author of five New York Times bestsellers, including Walking the Bible, Abraham, and America’s Prophet. His latest book, The Council of Dads, tells the uplifting story of how friendship and community can help one survive life’s greatest challenges. Read his review of Dracula in Love:

Gorgeously written and erotically charged, the novel Dracula in Love is like its century-jumping central characters: deeply rooted in the past while pushing ageless mythology into strikingly current realms. Historical novels should have plenty of history, and this novel surely does. Romantic novels should have their share of sex and romance, and this novel delivers both. But its true revelation is its gripping sense of anticipation, heartache, discovery, and unflinching chill.

With Dracula in Love Karen Essex turns her inimitable, piercing gaze to illuminating what should be familiar terrain--Victorian England--and what might seem like well-trod territory--a certain Count. Her considerable trick is to make you forget entirely all the baggage that attends her story by planting us firmly in the shoes and the psyche of one of the "victims," Mina Harker. I am walking up the steps of the finishing school with the quivering heroine; I am secreting away in London’s subterranean shadows with the jilted lover; I am traveling into the mysteries of southern Austria and Ireland's haunted west coast (yes, begone tired Transylvania!) where our heroine discovers her own dark powers.

I shudder in horror and delight when the fangs make their inevitable plunge.

I met Karen Essex when both of us were briefly embedded in the Southern gothic world of Nashville. She would soon unearth some of history’s most misunderstood women and vividly revive them for contemporary ears. From Kleopatra (note the provocative spelling) to the countess of Elgin (and her fascinating courtesan doppelganger from the ancient world, Aspasia) to feuding sisters who posed for Leonardo (watch the genius brought down to earth!), Karen overturns history’s conventions and shows how these women are keenly relevant today.

I am hardly a vampire freak. The Twilight books "eclipsed" me. And I’ve never owned a set of plastic fangs. But I do love Karen Essex, and this novel is enough to make me a little bloodthirsty.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

This variation on Bram Stoker’s Dracula tells the story from Mina Murray Harker’s point of view. As a child, Wilhemina was given to strange dreams and sleepwalking, which so alarmed her parents that at age seven she was sent to a boarding school for young ladies to “learn to control herself and her urges.” And she did become a proper young lady, with a proper fiancé, a young solicitor named Jonathan Harker. But the bewildering dreams continue, and one summer, which she is spending in Yorkshire with her friend Lucy Westerna, she sees a mysterious shipwreck at Whitby. After that the dreams become more like memories, and a presence, which she cannot see, follows her. Essex, who has been praised for her historical novels, has drawn a detailed picture of England at the end of the nineteenth century, including some of the horrendous psychological practices introduced from Germany. Essex’s twist on Stoker’s plot is sufficiently original, and the quality of her writing makes this novel stand out among the vampire offerings. --Frieda Murray --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Anchor; First Edition edition (July 5, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 076793122X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0767931229
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (119 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #354,397 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Karen Essex is the author of five novels of historical fiction. The latest, DRACULA IN LOVE, retells Bram Stoker's tale from the female perspective. STEALING ATHENA chronicles the fantastic journey of the controversial Elgin Marbles. The national and international bestseller LEONARDO'S SWANS, for which she won Italy's prestigious 2007 Premio Roma for foreign fiction, is the story of the rivalry between Leonardo's muses. Essex also wrote two acclaimed biographical novels, KLEOPATRA and PHARAOH, about the infamous queen of Egypt.

She is also an award winning journalist and a screenwriter, and wrote BETTIE PAGE: LIFE OF A PINUP LEGEND, the only authorized biography of the late pin-up icon.

Presently dividing her time between London and Los Angeles, Karen invites friends and readers to follow along as she chronicles her adventures, joys, and sorrows in putting together a complex work of historical fiction: Also, please follow her on Twitter:

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

28 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Elizabeth Renee Ziegler on August 18, 2010
Format: Hardcover
It is true that the Count himself does not appear in the flesh until late in Essex's beautifully executed story, but I would argue that the anticipation is part of the charm and romance of the novel, and it is, in fact, Mina's story. Whether you've read Stoker's original masterpiece or know nothing of the tale, when readnig Dracula in Love you will know that Dracula is ALWAYS in Mina's world. You will feel him as she feels him, even if he isn't there for the eyes to see. The Count's late arrival is part of Essex's mastermind as it adds to the eternal love story between them. The passion between Mina and the Count is reminiscent of Heathcliff and Catherine Earnshaw of Wuthering Heights.

In addition to the eternal love story, Essex keeps on giving in the way of an incredibly detailed portrait of Victorian London including a thorough exploration of feminist issues of the time through the powerful female characters. Not to mention the horrific scenes in the asylum--the inspiration for which came from actual 19th century physician notes!

If love and history aren't enough to get your blood pumping, maybe vampires are... Dracula in Love will not disappoint in this realm, and instead will show you vampires you've never seen before.

I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for a good read, and if you're looking for romance, history or's an absolute must read.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Jonny Snosrap on August 10, 2010
Format: Hardcover
As a lover of creatures of the night, I thouroughly enjoyed the brimming vampire mythology contained in this book. There's an entire underlayer to this dark world that I wasn't aware existed. Any true vampire fan will appreciate the stones that have been unturned by Essex.

I also appreciate the author's take on Stoker's original story, despite the generous dose of romance inevitably geared at female readers. Not being a female reader, I was drawn to the darker parts of Victorian London and the rich history provided, not to mention the chilling hallways and rooms in the asylum.

Overall, I found the book engaging and a good read. With elements for vampire fans, literature lovers, history fanatics, there is plenty to sink your teeth into.
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23 of 29 people found the following review helpful By Jodi VINE VOICE on September 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
*********SPOLIER ALERT*************SPOILER ALERT****************

The main problem I have is this.....

If a writer is going to take on the task of rewriting a classic novel such as Dracula, and if said author is going to change our perception of who Dracula REALLY was, essentially turning the nefarious Count into a "lonely, misunderstood" guy whose major sin seems to be that of falling in love with a woman who technically isn't his, then why can't this same author alter the fate of one "misunderstood" Count? Why go through the trouble of rewriting Dracula's character to such a degree that he wins the affections of the reader, only to have the author kill him off anyway? If, as Mina Harker claims, Bram Stoker "got the story all wrong", couldn't he have gotten the ending wrong as well? I really hate books that kill off very likable characters and, as far as this story is concerned, Dracula was actually a very likable guy. I was actually rooting for him, thinking he stood a chance considering Bram Stoker "got it all wrong", but I was sorely disappointed.

Throughout the entire book, Mina's idiotic husband who, by the way, checks Mina into an insane asylum and allows her to be tortured at the hands of his "friend" and this same idiotic husband who commits egregious acts of adultry against his innocent and naive wife, maintains his title as hero while Count Dracula (who, by the way, rescues Mina from the insane asylum that her husband abandoned her in) keeps his place as local villain. What the.....?? The husband, with his arrogant and holier-than-thou attitude emerges as the champion and the Count, who has saved Mina's life several times and waited patiently with her while she tried tirelessly to remember her past relationship with the Count, remains villified.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Jaden on July 17, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I found this book at my local library three years ago and fell in love myself. The different take on the original story of Dracula is outstanding and liberating. From a woman's point of view it shows the mistreatment of women at the time and how they were incriminated for normal feelings while men were supported. The story of past lives and mortality and immortality is fascinating and beautiful. I recently read it again and remembered why I loved it so much with all the imagery and the history as well. It takes you for a ride with the character and has you deciding along with her and just feeling her emotions. I could go for a sequel set in modern times with Dracula and Mina again picking up from where they left off either with her having stayed or gone and come to another life for another decision.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Alayne VINE VOICE on August 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover
The advertisement for Dracula in Love by Karen Essex said: "If you read only one more vampire novel, let it be this one." That's a pretty bold statement so I took the bait. Dracula as told by Mina? Sounds pretty tasty, right? I bit (pun intended) on the posting for an advance copy. In hindsight, I should have probably just followed my gut telling me there's too much vampire-fiction out there for all of it to be worthy of the hype.

While reading, I found myself comparing Essex's retelling of Dracula with the original (how could I not?). It's been several years since I read Stoker's Dracula so I don't remember all the details, but everyone knows the basic plot. Nearing the end of Dracula in Love I pondered the basic question any reader should think of when perusing a spin-off: Is the spin worthy of the original? I asked myself if Essex's retelling was really anything new or original or markedly better. In the end I decided that Bram Stoker's novel is a classic tragedy, making Karen Essex's version a copy of a tragedy which came out underwhelming and fairly lifeless (which, although necessary for a vampire, is not so good for a novel). Her love scenes were hot and heavy, but her frequent use of the word "preternatural" annoyed me to no end. Knowing what happens in Dracula meant I knew what would happen in Dracula in Love, and although the story should to be in the telling, Essex didn't inspire me with her version like good historical-fiction should.

For those of you in search for the next vampire novel, sure, maybe you'll enjoy Dracula in Love because it's got vampires and they're attractive and it's got women taking control and all that good stuff. But for me, if a writer is going to tackle something as venerable as DRACULA, they had better do it well. In this case, the aim fell far from the mark and the resulting product was another paperback to add to the growing pile of fang-related books on the market these days. Sigh.
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