|Title: Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker
Cover Art: N/A
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Paperback: 480 pages
Date Published: July 20, 2010
Review Copy Source: TLC Book Tours
Reviewed by: Julia
Many have read and loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula. But questions remain. What is the true story of Dracula’s origin? What if Mina could not bring herself to record the true story of their scandalous affair—until now?
In Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker, Syrie James explores these questions and more. 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.
Reading Dracula has long been on my list of things to do. I loved The Historian, I read vampire books by the bushel, and I’ve heard time and time again that Dracula is a book celebrating technology and gadgets (admittedly, it’s “shorthand” and “typewriters”, but those were the texting and iPhones of their time). My nook came pre-stocked with a free version of the book, but even then (and I hate to admit it) my deep aversion to epistolary novels held me back. I just can’t get excited about a book told after the fact, through snatches of diaries and letters. I want action; I want immediacy! Every once in awhile I can push myself past the initial dislike, but that requires me to be trapped in scenarios involving desert islands (or family trips) with no other books in sight.
With this background in mind, I’m sure you can understand that I approached DRACULA, MY LOVE with equal parts hope and fear. Hope that I would find hints of the great book I had always planned on reading, fear that Syrie James would fall short in her adaptation and add yet another roadblock between me and ever reading Dracula. In the end, my hopes were exceeded and my fears entirely assuaged. Rather than ruining anything, DRACULA, MY LOVE is a gateway drug for those of us who have yet to read vampire primary source material.
DRACULA, MY LOVE is an accessible first person story told from the point of view of the admirable Mina Harker (or ‘Mina Murray’ in the start of our story). Mina is a believable product of her Victorian upbringing, and beyond that, she is also intelligent, honorable, and curious. It is a mistake to view her skills with shorthand and typing through our modern lens (“Can’t everyone do that?”). James does an excellent job drawing the reader in to a period mindset, showing her peers’ admiration for Mina’s mastery of these new sciences. While there were times when Mina’s willingness to accommodate the men in her life was a bit much, my moments of exasperation were largely a product of how invested in her I had become. I cared about Mina and the choices she was making, the life she was choosing. She was so vivid and pivotal, I can’t imagine the story of Count Dracula without Mina at it’s center.
Despite having never read the “real thing”, DRACULA, MY LOVE holds the same enthusiasm for technology and science that I imagine the original does. I am a complete sucker for the juxtaposition of science and myth, and DRACULA, MY LOVE has enough practical problem solving and mysterious bat/cloud/wolf creatures to make me swoon. While James sets a new camera angle on a familiar old story, she also draws the reader in to ask the same questions that fuel her story from the very first page, “How much do you trust your conclusions? What can you prove? What if what you ‘know’ is wrong?” It is this spirit of curiosity and problem solving that stayed with me when I closed the book and put my head on the pillow. What did I just read? How much did I trust the opinions and accounts as they were laid out? What really happened?
Sexual Content: Sensual scenes that suggest sex.
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