Love makes monsters of us, Constanta, and not everyone is cut out for monstrosity.
When I first applied for an Arc of this book I wasn’t really all that interested in the story, I have never read Dracula, nor do I care more about vampires than the common person. I mainly applied for the Arc because I’d heard about the book and I was interested in the way it would be written. And I’m so glad I did. This book didn’t disappoint, and it made even me care about these brides of Dracula.
A Dowry of Blood is marketed as a retelling of The Brides of Dracula told from the perspective of one of the brides. It shows the tumultuous and obsessive relationships formed between the brides as well as their sire. The writing of the story is beautiful and told through a confessional letter from the first bride to their sire, this creates a beautiful language where he is never named, simply referred to as you.
The book being written in letter format means that we get a better insight into the emotional turmoil Constanta goes through in her relationship. It also means the world we find ourselves in very subjective, which makes the book even more atmospheric.
Gibson’s writing style is very flowery at times and spins metaphors that guide the reader through the relationships and lives lived in a beautiful way. Even if you aren’t interested in vampires or reimagining of Dracula’s Brides, I’d say it’s worth it to read this book for the writing alone, to read how you’re guided through centuries and countries as Constanta lives her afterlife and uncovers more and more about what it means to be undead.
This is my last love letter to you, though some would call it a confession. I suppose both are a sort of gentle violence, putting down in ink what scorches the air when spoken aloud.
The obvious focus of this story is the relationship between Constanta and her sire, and later comes to encompass Magdalena and Alexis. Gibson does a great job in writing the relationship these four have together, as well as how their relationships to each other are all unique and none of them take up the same spots. Her descriptions of the love and hatred the four of them share and how it clouds their judgement manage to convey how a person who’s trapped in an abusive relationship might still love the other person.
This is an extremely character driven story, the only plot of the book really being how the relationship and characters progress through time. This means that there isn’t really any focus on the historical or geographical settings of the book except for what benefits the progression of the characters. I found that I didn’t mind this in the slightest and if anything it conveyed the atmospheric nature of the story better than if unnecessary geographical and historical contexts were described.
“It would be easier if he hated us,” she said. “But he loves us all terribly. And if we go on letting him love us, that love is going to kill us. That’s what makes him so dangerous.”
In short, this is an amazing book I’d strongly recommend if you’re looking for an atmospheric vampire story, that heavily focuses on the characters and their relationships. If you’re looking for a historical novel with more of a focus on the historical aspects this might not be the book for you, but you should still give it a try because it’s just that brilliant.