ALPHAreader's Reviews > Dracula, My Love: The Secret Journals of Mina Harker

Dracula, My Love by Syrie James
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Jan 08, 11

Read from January 06 to 09, 2011

'Dracula, My Love' is the third novel by acclaimed Hollywood screenwriter (turned novelist), Syrie James.

As the title suggests, James's novel is a retelling of Bram Stoker's original Gothic tale. Our protagonist is Mina Harker, who is recounting a time in her life when everything was thrown into disquiet and discontent. Seven years after the events that bought a Mr Wagner (née, Count Dracula) into her life, and Mina still senses his presence and yearns for his forbidden touch...

At times, I feared him. At other times, I despised him. And yet, even knowing what he was and what he wanted, I could not help but love him.

The more I read in the Urban Fantasy genre, the more I am fascinated with its origins. And it seems I am not alone. 'Dracula, My Love' is the second novel to come out that retells and reshapes Stoker's classic tale (the other novel by Karen Essex is called 'Dracula in Love').

You may think you know the tale of Dracula, and can therefore gain no fascination or insight from a retelling. True, you may know the players and the setting. The Whitby cliffs, Lucy Westenra's tragic death and the twisted triangle of Mina Murray, Jonathan Harker and Count Dracula. But writers like Syrie James and Karen Essex are revisiting the original tale from a modern perspective and setting Stoker's Gothic story ablaze in modernity.

One of the finest aspects of 'Dracula, My Love' is Syrie James's heightened awareness of Stoker's time and setting, as she draws on fascinations of the past as well as modern sense. She cloaks the Dracula myth in inventive historical facts, drawing on the legend of Vlad the Impaler but also referencing 'pop culture' of the 1800's. 'Dracula, My Love' is awash with many interesting historical tidbits – like the fact that Oscar Wilde's 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' was released in Lippincott's Monthly Magazine the same year that Stoker's 'Dracula' tale is set, making for an insightful comparison.

“I think everyone has a desire for perennial youth,” I admitted, “but in the end, this is a Faustian, a cautionary tale, about vanity and frivolity, and the dangers of trying to interfere with the basic laws of life and death. When I really think about it, I would not wish to be young for ever.”
“No? And why not?”
“Because I would be obliged to watch everyone I loved grow old and die.”
“What if that were not the case? What if there was one person whom you loved deeply, with whom you could live on for ever, under the same terms?”


And then there are the times when Syrie James adds modern perspective and common sense to Stoker's tale. Like in the character of Doctor Van Helsing, whose medical methods are brought into disrepute when James hints that the good doctor's 'blood transfusions' are killing his patients.

Syrie James is writing 'Dracula, My Love' in the wake of 'Twilight' and 'True Blood', and fans of Edward Cullen, Bill Compton and the like. Hence, 'Dracula, My Love' tells the romantic tale of Mina Harker and Count Dracula. This is the focal point of the story, as told by Mina herself. And really, this romance still holds so many fascinating angles and back-story's, as James highlights. Dracula and Mina are the ultimate star-crossed lovers; Dracula the forbidden fruit, and Mina his innocent Eve. At times I wished that James had kept the character of Dracula more terrifying, for there are times when she justifies his actions with excuses and reasoning. However, it's impossible to tell whether such protestations of innocence are in fact Mina being an unreliable narrator, trying to defend her falling for the Count? And really, that's half the fun of reading 'Dracula, My Love'... trying to figure out how much Mina is a victim of circumstance and how much she willingly succumbed to Dracula's temptations...

His blue eyes penetrated mine. "I have made no secret of it: I love you. You are all I want. I do not want you for a day, or a decade, or a lifetime. I want to be with you for all time..."

'Dracula, My Love' is a wicked and titillating re-imagining of the classic Gothic tale. Mina is no longer relegated to the swooning heroine in Syrie James's story, she is instead the willing temptress and lover of the 'monster' Dracula. This is like an adult 'Twilight', right up the 'True Blood' alley and a truly tempting retelling of a classic horror story.
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